Healthwatch 16: Breast Cancer Symposium on Saturday

SCRANTON -- There is a lot of focus on early detection, early diagnosis, and early treatment of breast cancer.

But some in the medical field say there's a growing need for information about later stage breast cancer too, especially in this area.

The Komen Foundation of Northeastern Pennsylvania has teamed up with Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine to present a symposium bringing a lot of information to the community for free this weekend.

Lisa Kutra and Suzanne O'Hara shared their stories with Newswatch 16 around the Susan G. Komen annual Race for the Cure event, which happens each year in downtown Scranton.

Komen calls them forever fighters: women who have been diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer, or cancer that has spread to other parts of the body. They were partially the inspiration for, and will be a part of, an event happening Saturday at Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine on Pine Street in Scranton.

"We were interested in a community project. We are a community medical school and we are here to serve the community," said Dr. Pamela Lucchesi.

Dr. Lucchesi is a professor of physiology at the medical school. She says in speaking with Komen representatives she learned of a problem in this area.

"In Lackawanna and Wyoming Counties, we have a high incidence of late-stage breast cancer diagnosis. So women are being diagnosed at stage 3, stage 4, when the cancer has already metastasized."

That's when the medical school put together a focus group and learned what the community wanted was to know the latest research.

"They wanted to understand what clinical trials are all about, and they wanted to feel that their struggle was recognized by the community," said Dr. Lucchesi.

This symposium was the result. Saturday from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m., Komen and the medical school will present "Living Well with Breast Cancer and Beyond," a series of presentations and panels.

Dr. Marian Farrell says it's the first of its kind in the area, bringing scholars in to brief people, not only on the latest medical breakthroughs, but also on how important it can be to treat the cancer and treat the person.

Some examples of that might be eating well or taking care of themselves physically.

"We want them to have overall wellness, and we don't want them to think that if they have metastatic breast cancer there are no options," said Dr. Farrell.

The symposium is free and open to the public.

You can register by calling 570-969-6072 or you could just show up Saturday morning at Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine at 8 a.m.