Shelley Hwang, MD, chief of breast surgery at the Duke Cancer Institute, has been named one of TIME’s 100 most influential people for 2016 as a pioneer in her field. Hwang shares the honor with fellow breast cancer surgeon Laura J. Esserman, M.D., MBA, of the University of California, San Francisco. The magazine report was written by musician and breast cancer survivor Melissa Etheridge.
Internationally Renowned Researcher on DCIS Treatments
One of the world’s foremost experts in early-stage breast cancers, Shelley Hwang, MD, has become an international leader calling for research to guide treatment for ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), in which abnormal cells are detected in the lining of a milk duct but haven’t spread to other tissues.
DCIS is the most common form of non-invasive breast cancer in the U.S. and accounts for about 20 percent of all new breast cancer cases diagnosed from mammogram screenings. But doctors are divided on how some patients with low-risk DCIS should be treated.
Hwang’s research and advocacy for a more informed approach to DCIS treatments -- which could include lumpectomy and/or ongoing surveillance instead of aggressive radiation or mastectomy -- has helped spur international discussion. She has been a voice for women who are diagnosed with DCIS to receive the best treatment available while sparing them unnecessary procedures that don’t help or may even cause harm.
Research Focuses on How Breast Cancer Progresses
"Shelley is an exceptional surgeon-scientist who is, through elegant and focused investigation, redefining our understanding of breast cancer,” said Allan D. Kirk, MD, PhD, chairman of the department of surgery at the Duke University School of Medicine and surgeon-in-chief at Duke. "However, her strongest trait is the genuine empathy, care, and understanding she brings to each of her patients. She sets the standard for other surgeons to follow.”
Hwang’s work in the operating room and in the lab has focused on the evolutionary basis for how breast cancer progresses. Her lab is also working to identify common biomarkers of cancer progression that in the future could lead to clues in preventing the disease. She also serves on the National Cancer Institute Breast Cancer Steering Committee and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network Breast Cancer Screening and Diagnosis Committee and is an advocate for cooperative group clinical trials in breast cancer.
"Her strongest trait is the genuine empathy, care, and understanding she brings to each of her patients. She sets the standard for other surgeons to follow.”