Medical College doctor receives grant for breast cancer research

WAUWATOSA — A doctor at the Medical College of Wisconsin is being recognized for her research on breast cancer survivors. When it comes to treating breast cancer, there are side effects to consider, and Dr. Joan Neuner has discovered a side effect no one knew about.

Dr. Neuner is an associate professor at the Medical College of Wisconsin and also practices at Froedtert Hospital.  She’s seen a lot of breast cancer survivors in her clinic, but she’s noticed that some face another health problem – brittle bones.

“Personally in my clinic I have seen patients that have had broken bones related to their treatments from breast cancer,” Dr. Neuner said.

Since 2007, Dr. Neuner has been studying the effects of certain cancer medications.  While the newer treatments may help more women beat the cancer, she’s learned the treatments may also weaken the bones.

“They block some of that natural estrogen — good effects on bones,” Dr. Neuner said.

The American Cancer Society noticed Dr. Neuner’s work and recently awarded her with a $200,000 Kohl’s Cares grant to extend her research for another three years.

“Here in Wisconsin, almost 4,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in a year, so it’s really important. It’s really exciting too, because she’s focusing on the survivorship aspect,” Anna Pludeman, breast health initiative coordinator for the American Cancer Society said.

Dr. Neuner says the grant will help her hire an additional research coordinator. She will now have a team of six to help with research.  With the study results, she hopes to provide better counseling to patients choosing treatment plans.

“Optimizing their quality of life in any way we can, we think is now an important task of cancer research, in addition to stopping the cancer,” Dr. Neuner said.

Long term, Dr. Neuner also plans to look at different complications of other breast cancer treatments – one in particular, problems with the jaw.

If you’d like to learn more about American Cancer Society and Kohl’s Cares breast health initiative and grant, click here.

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