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Health Systems Institute
Georgia Institute of Technology
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Ph.D. Proposal :: The Role of Clinical and Non-clinical Factors in Testing and Treatment of HER2 Breast Cancer

Mahima Ashok - Advisor: Dr. Paul Griffin, Committee: Dr. Robert Butera, Dr. Michael Halpern, Dr. Richard Nichols,Dr. Brani Vidakovic

DATE: Thursday, July 17, 2008
TIME: 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM
LOCATION: 828 W. Peachtree St, NW - 207A Exec Boardroom

HER2 positive breast cancer is an aggressive form of breast cancer associated with poor prognosis. Trastuzumab is a relatively new drug used for the treatment of HER2 breast cancer. While this therapy can significantly improve outcomes for patients with HER2 breast cancer, it also has serious side effects and substantial costs. Treatment of HER2 positive cancer is distinct from treatment of HER2 negative cancer. Therefore, appropriate testing for HER2 status is critically important. Immunohistochemistry and Fluorescence In Situ Hybridization are two methods used to determine the HER2 status of breast cancer. In practice, these techniques are used in different combinations due to a lack of consensus on the best approach from both a clinical and non-clinical perspective. This research will evaluate factors affecting HER2  testing and treatment and create effective HER2 testing strategies.

Specifically, this research will focus on three areas: i) patient clinical and non-clinical factors associated with HER2 testing and therapy, ii) cost effectiveness of retesting HER2 status and ii) the relationships between triple negative patient status, HER2 testing and treatment. Using these analyses, information guides will be developed showing current testing and treatment patterns along with potential for improvement. Recommendations for testing and treatment strategies based on patient factors will be established. Analysis will be conducted on a data set containing information from over 3000 breast cancer patients.

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