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Over 1,000 breast cancer patients enrolled in Breast Cancer Research Program at Baptist MD Anderson

Cassie Jackson of Orange Park was intrigued to learn that she was a candidate for a research drug that could help her stage 2/3 breast cancer. Since her diagnosis last July at Baptist MD Anderson Cancer Center in Jacksonville, she has undergone chemotherapy, radiation and a double mastectomy.

She also has received infusions at three-week intervals that are either placebo or the trial immunotherapy drug called pembrolizumab. Immunotherapy is a cancer treatment geared to help the immune system fight off cancer cells.

Jackson isn’t sure if she’s receiving the actual research drug — nor are her doctors — in the double-blind study. However, she’s hopeful that the trial results can help future patients.

Jackson is one of more than 1,000 patients enrolled in breast cancer clinical trials at Baptist MD Anderson. The cancer center has 55 cancer trials overall, with 16 of those trials geared specifically toward breast cancer, says Dr. Jennifer Crozier, director of the Breast Cancer Research Program and a medical oncologist at Baptist MD Anderson. “We have clinical trials available for nearly every (breast cancer) patient we see,” Crozier says.

Some of the trials are in partnership with MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, while others are specific to Baptist MD Anderson. Trial results at Baptist MD Anderson have included participation in the HER2Climb trial for patients with advanced or metastatic HER2+ breast cancer. This led to the FDA approval of the drug tucatinib (Tukysa) for patients with HER2+ breast cancer, Crozier says.

Baptist MD Anderson also is part of an international genomic study of breast tumors that will help lead to more precise diagnoses and treatment options, Crozier says.