Dr. Mark Clemons

Locally-advanced breast cancer and bone metastases

Dr. Mark Clemons is the head of Breast Medical Oncology at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and a principal investigator at The Campbell Family Institute for Breast Cancer Research.  He received his early medical oncology training at Christie Hospital in Manchester, England, which is Europe’s largest comprehensive cancer centre.  His post-graduate studies focused on the ways that breast cancer resists chemotherapy, and he has investigated the feasibility of suppressing DNA repair systems as a means of overcoming chemotherapy resistance. It was his vision to create a program focusing on the care of women diagnosed with locally-advanced breast cancer (LABC).

Locally-Advanced Breast Cancer
LABC is a disease characterized by breast tumours that may be large (greater than 5 cm) with or without lymph node involvement, or tumours that extend beyond the breast tissue into surrounding skin or muscle. One particularly aggressive form of LABC is called inflammatory breast cancer. LABC is difficult to treat and also likely to re-occur.  LABC accounts for 10 to 15% of all new breast cancer diagnosed in North America.

The LABC program at The Princess Margaret is led by specially-trained oncology nurses who centre on patient needs, treating not just the disease but each individual who has to undergo treatment. Treating the patient means helping a woman deal with difficult issues of body image changes, interruptions to her career, premature menopause, loss of fertility, and the ever present risk of dying of her cancer. 

Bone Metastases
Unfortunately, bone is the most common organ that breast cancer comes back in. When cancer comes back in the bones, many patients are faced with the consequent problems of pain, suffering, fractures and shortened survival.

The Bone Metastases Research Program at The Campbell Family Institute for Breast Cancer Research led by Dr. Clemons has established an international reputation for performing innovative research into improving the management and quality of life of these patients in the clinic. This year treatment studies have already begun to look at several new drugs specifically for patients with bone metastases. The hope is that an understanding of why bone is destroyed by breast cancer cells, will lead to treatment strategies that stop breast cancer from spreading in the first place.
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