Mapping and understanding brain metastasis in breast cancer, with Dr. Priscilla Brastianos

Metastasis, when cancer cells leave the breast and spread to other sites in the body, is the major cause of mortality from breast cancer. The brain is one of the most common organs breast cancer invades, occurring in more than one third of patients with advanced breast cancer, up to 300,000 patients a year. The prognosis of cancer patients who develop brain metastasis is poor, with only 20 percent of patients surviving at one year.

For Dr. Priscilla Brastianos, a BCRF investigator since 2017, this cause hits close to home. Both her mother and grandmother died of metastatic breast cancer. That’s why she has dedicated her career to better understanding brain metastasis. As the Director of the Central Nervous System Metastasis Program & Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, her research focuses on understanding the mechanisms driving metastatic disease to the brain. She is currently conducting studies to characterize the genetic and molecular profiles of brain metastasis compared to primary breast cancer with the goal of identifying potential targets for therapy and strategies to improve response to existing therapies.

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