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LDS Hospital Hosts 30th Annual Cancer Course for Medical Professionals


SALT LAKE CITY — Physicians are using more sophisticated technology to find breast cancer at earlier and earlier stages, and they’re also gaining greater insight into the DNA of specific breast cancers. For patients, that means better, less-invasive treatments and more promising outcomes.

Medical professionals from across Utah and the Intermountain West will learn about these developments and more when they meet at LDS Hospital on Saturday, January 28, for the Cowan Cancer Symposium, the largest and longest-running cancer symposium in the region.

The event, now in its 30th year, brings together world-renowned specialists in one area of oncology. The symposium this year will give medical professionals a broad overview of the latest thinking in breast cancer, including new methods for screening, personalized treatment, surgical approaches, pioneering reconstruction work, and radiation therapy.

Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed form of cancer among women. Between 1997 and 2006, more than 8,000 women in Utah and 148,000 women across the United States were diagnosed with the disease. But thanks to strides in screening and treatment, it is also one of the most controllable forms of cancer, with a 90 percent survival rate five years after diagnosis.

“The Cowan Symposium is a valuable resource for local physicians, nurses, and other caregivers who can get up-to-the-minute information on several aspects of breast cancer,” says symposium co-director Vilija Avizonis, MD, a radiation oncologist at Intermountain Medical Center.  “Without the symposium, we’d have to travel across the country to attend several conferences to gain the same, very specialized knowledge.”

The end result, she says, is “better care for our patients here in Utah.”

The Cowan Cancer Symposium is named for the late Leland R. Cowan, MD, a pioneering surgical oncologist and radiation therapist whose career spanned nearly 50 years, most of it at LDS Hospital.