The Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation Breast Health Forum, presented by our Main Partner, National Bank, is THE annual scientific gathering to learn about the latest developments in breast cancer. Attend conferences on the most recent advances in breast cancer and ask your questions.

The 5th edition of the Forum will take place virtually on October 30 and will address major topics such as risk factors and screening, breast cancer biology, the latest advances and treatments, and improving patients’ quality of life… in other words, the entire breast cancer journey. Although this journey is different for everyone, all the steps are important in understanding the disease and improving the quality of life of people with breast cancer and their loved ones, at all levels.

General public

$ 5

Health professionals

$ 25


8:15 AM / Participants login
8:30 AM /
Welcome note

Philippe Desrosiers
Animator and director

Opening word

Karine-Iseult Ippersiel
President and CEO

A word from our Main Partner, National Bank

Gabrielle Cournoyer
Vice-President – Cards and Payment Solutions
National Bank of Canada

8:45 AM / Keynote

Breast cancer tumor microenvironment

Dr. Anne-Marie Fortier
Research Associate and Project Manager

9:15 AM / Theme 1:

Breast cancer risk factors and screening – what is necessary to know?

Endocrine disruptors and breast cancer

Dr. Isabelle Plante
Co-Director, Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS)

Endocrine disruptors are substances, natural or man-made, that can interfere with hormonal action in our bodies. This interference with sex hormones may promote the development of breast cancer. The problem is that endocrine disruptors can be found everywhere in our environment: shampoo, cosmetics and even in our furniture: indeed, brominated flame retardants are substances that are found in furniture to reduce flammability. Dr. Isabelle Plante and her team are interested in these molecules, which are inevitably found in every home and are considered to be a type of endocrine disruptor that could increase the risk of breast cancer.

Oncogenomics and the “Oncodrive” project

Dr. Patricia Tonin
Professor, Department of Medicine and Human Genetics, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences

Among risk factors, genetics is involved in about 5-10% of breast cancer cases. Individuals (male or female) who carry a genetic mutation have a 40-60% chance of developing the disease, and also have a 50% chance of passing the gene on to each of their children. Knowledge of these genes is important because it can influence patient management and treatment. “Oncodrive”’s goal is to improve the management of patients affected by cancer by better integrating genetics into the process.

Screening and mammography 101

Sylvia Legros, t.i.m.
Medical imaging technologist

Mammography is a low-dose X-ray of the breast tissue to obtain detailed images. All women are advised to have a mammogram every two years from the age of 50; an appointment that can save many lives. Early detection of breast cancer means that a tumour can be discovered promptly and treated. Sylvia Legros, t.i.m. will explain in more detail what a mammogram is for and how it works.

Breast density explained

Dr. Geneviève Tondreau
Clinical Doctor

Breasts are said to be dense when they consist of more connective tissue (between the glands and ducts), glands and galactophore ducts than fat tissue (adipose). The density of the breast can only be determined by mammography, which can distinguish between radiopaque dense tissue and radiotranslucent fatty tissue. Screening for breast cancer may be more difficult in the case of a very dense breast since it is less clear whether a lump is present. Dr. Geneviève Tondreau of the Québec Breast Cancer Screening Program (PQDCS) will explain and expand on this topic.

Question period

10:45 AM / Break

11:00 AM / Theme 2:
Breast cancer biology

AXL as a multifunctional therapeutic target in breast cancer

Dr. Jean-François Côté
President and Interim Scientific Director

Approximately 20-30% of female breast cancer survivors will become metastatic and 5% of breast cancers in Canada are initially diagnosed at Stage 4. Dr. Jean-François Côté’s team has discovered that a protein called AXL is believed to play an important role in the development of metastasis. Its research aims to better understand the mechanism behind this protein in order to develop therapies that target it, thus preventing the spread of cancer cells into metastases.

Hormonal dependant breast cancer biology

Dr. Sylvie Mader
Principal Investigator, Research unit on molecular targeting in breast cancer treatment
Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine

Estrogen and progesterone receptors are involved in about 83% of breast cancers: this is called hormone-sensitive or hormone-dependent breast cancer. In addition, 30-50% of these tumour cells will eventually develop resistance to treatment. A better understanding of the biology of hormone-dependent breast cancer allows the development of more targeted treatments that could reduce the risk of recurrence.

Vitamin D analogues and triple-negative breast cancer

Dr. John White
Professor and Chair Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences,

Triple-negative breast cancer is so called because it does not respond to any of the three hormone receptors (estrogen, progesterone and HER2), hence the name “triple-negative breast cancer” or TNBC. It is a rather aggressive type of cancer that accounts for about 10-15% of cases. The risk of recurrence is also higher. There is no targeted treatment for TNBC, so chemotherapy is routinely given.

Dr. White and his team are interested in molecules that could specifically target triple-negative breast cancer: vitamin D receptors (VDRs) and HDAC inhibitors. These are two anti-cancer agents that act on resistant cells and, when combined, may be able to kill cancer cells. A better understanding of the mechanism of these molecules could lead to the development of a targeted treatment for TNBC.

Precision medicine and metastatic breast cancer

Dr. Saima Hassan
Surgery-oncologist, Assistant professor, Surgery Department, Faculty of Medicine

Breast cancer is multifactorial and heterogeneous, meaning it can be characterized by a combination of several factors. Among those being analyzed are the molecular subtypes involved in the development of cancer. The best known are the estrogen (ER+) and progesterone (PR+) receptors, followed by human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2+). The more the mechanism of activation of these receptors is understood, the more treatments can be developed to block their action and prevent the development of cancer.

The particularity of metastasis is that the cancer cells act differently in a so-called localized cancer than in a metastatic breast cancer, i.e. Stage 4. The latter implies that the cancer cells have reached other organs of the body, such as the liver, bones, lungs, or brain. The cancer becomes incurable and can only be controlled and prevented from progressing. Precision medicine can help develop more targeted treatments to limit side effects and improve the quality of life of people with metastatic breast cancer.

Question period

12:15 PM / Lunch break

1:00 PM / Thème 3:
Latest advances in breast cancer treatment and research

Treatment of ER+ and HER2+ breast cancer

Dr. Jamil Asselah
Associate Professor, Oncology
Gerald Bronfman Department of Oncology, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences

There are many combinations of factors that will define a type of breast cancer. These characteristics will also influence the treatment that is given. However, we know that sex hormones play an important role in the development of breast cancer. In 83% of cases, estrogen receptors (ER) and progesterone receptors (PR) are involved, while the HER2 protein is responsible for about 25% of cases. Dr. Jamil Asselah will present the latest advances in the treatment of this type of cancer.

Liquid biopsies

Dr. Mark Basik
Senior investigator, Lady Davis Institute
Herbert Black Professor of Surgical Oncology

Currently, a biopsy is the only way to confirm a diagnosis of breast cancer. This technique consists of taking a sample of the tumour, which is then analyzed in a laboratory to detect if there are cancerous cells. A liquid biopsy would instead involve taking, then analyzing, a blood sample. It was recently discovered that tumour information could possibly be detected in the blood, including tumour DNA, messenger RNA and certain proteins. Thanks to advances in artificial intelligence, it may therefore be possible to screen for breast cancer in the blood, using a less invasive but equally accurate technology.

Triple negative breast cancer: anything new?

Dr. Cristiano Ferrario
Medical Oncologist
Assistant Professor, Gerald Bronfman Department of Oncology, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences

As previously mentioned, triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) accounts for 10-15% of breast cancer cases. It is so called because it does not respond to any of the three hormone receptors (ER, PR and HER2). It is generally a more aggressive cancer and is often found in younger women. As it does not respond to any of the well-known receptors, the mechanisms behind this type of cancer are less well understood, so there is no targeted treatment and chemotherapy is often given as the first line of treatment. However, the latest developments in triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) point to promising avenues for more targeted treatments that will improve the prognosis for this type of cancer while offering more precise and therefore potentially less aggressive treatments.

Last advances in treatment of oligometastatic disease

Dr. Tarek Hijal
Director, Division of Radiation Oncology

The oligometastatic stage is defined as an intermediate stage of cancer, between localized cancer and widely disseminated metastases. At this stage, metastases are present, but are not too widespread throughout the body. There are then various promising therapy options that could avoid systemic treatments by first using treatments such as radiotherapy, which are more targeted and have fewer adverse side effects.

Question period

2:15 PM / Break

2:30 PM / Thème 4:
How to increase the well-being and overall health of patients?

When is contralateral surgery recommended?

Dr. Sarkis Meterissian
Professor of Surgery and Oncology

Contralateral surgery is a mastectomy of one healthy breast, which is removed when there is or has been cancer in the other breast. This procedure can be done as a preventive measure if the risk of developing another cancer is too high, for example if the person has a genetic mutation. There are various reasons for this decision, which Dr. Meterissian will explain in detail during his lecture.

Improve adherence to oral therapy

Sophie Lauzier, Ph. D.
Associate Professor, Faculty of Pharmacy, Université Laval, and Researcher

More and more oral therapies are being administered to treat cancer. This means that patients have to manage the medication and its side effects themselves. Adherence to the treatment is an essential component to obtain the full benefits of the therapy. Dr. Sophie Lauzier and her team are developing support programs to promote adherence to adjuvant hormone therapy following breast cancer.

Cancer and work

Dr. Christine Maheu
Associate Professor, Ingram School of Nursing, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences

Maureen Parkinson
Provincial Vocational Rehabilitation Counsellor

During breast cancer treatment, the patients are usually off work so that they can focus all their energy on healing. However, returning to work after several months of treatment can be disorienting. Dr. Christine Maheu and Ms. Maureen Parkinson have created, the Cancer and Work website, to provide a multitude of tools and resources to help cancer survivors and employers prepare for a successful return to work.

Physical activity and breast cancer

Dr. Michel Pavic
Head of service of Hemato-Oncology, Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences

Regular physical activity is known to reduce breast cancer mortality by 30% and the risk of recurrence by 12-21%. Moreover, physical activity helps to reduce the undesirable side effects of treatment, such as fatigue, anxiety, stress and depressive symptoms. Dr. Michel Pavic looks at the benefits of regular physical activity in the treatment of and recovery from breast cancer.

Question period

3:45 PM / Interview:

Coping with cancer through realistic optimism

Josée Savard
Psychologist, Researcher and Full Professor, School of Psychology, Faculty of Social Sciences, Université LavalCHU DE QUÉBEC-LAVAL UNIVERSITY RESEARCH CENTER

Josée Savard suggests a very interesting approach to dealing with a breast cancer diagnosis: realistic optimism. She considers that unrealistic positive thinking can harm rather than help the patient. By believing that positive thinking will help cure, the patient may instead develop a great deal of guilt if the cancer progresses, when it is not their fault. Instead, she suggests considering all possible scenarios: positive, negative or realistic. Her research is based on the principles of cognitive behavioural therapy.

4:15 PM / Closing words

Free simultaneous translation available

Please note that The Forum moderation and the majority of the conferences will be presented in French. Some presentations will be in English. Simultaneous translation into both languages will be possible via the Interactio application. All details will be e-mailed to you.

Certificate of virtual attendance for health professionals

Only those who have met the following conditions will receive a certificate of attendance:

  1. Purchase of a “Health Professional – with Certificate” ticket for $25 (one ticket per person);
  2. Login information duly completed on the day of the Forum (first and last names, etc.);
  3. Participation for the entire duration of the Forum.

Please note that only one certificate of attendance will be sent per login link. It will therefore be important to identify yourself correctly when you log in on October 30.

If you wish to obtain more information on the number of hours credited, we recommend that you contact your professional order directly.

Certificates of attendance will be e-mailed to the address used for registration 10 business days after the event has ended.

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