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Why We Need to Talk About Metastatic Breast Cancer

Timothy Cook, senior vice president of global oncology at Athenex Oncology, a U.S.-based global biopharmaceutical company, talks about the driving force behind Athenex Oncology.

Timothy Cook

Senior Vice President of Global Oncology, Anthenex

As you prepare for launch, tell us about a person you met who has inspired you to push forward.

Claire. I’ll never forget her zest for life. Claire was a valued member of the Athenex team, a soccer mom, and an advocate for everyone facing metastatic breast cancer (MBC). We sadly lost Claire earlier this year, but her spirited personality lives on in all of us.

What values do you live by at Athenex Oncology?

We recognize the entire person receiving treatment, and the impacts on their lives. We don’t just look at the cancer, we are looking at the entire person and how they deal with side effects, manage emotional health challenges, and fit cancer into their lives. We are working with advocacy groups to better support underserved populations of people facing MBC—specifically in smaller rural communities across the country. Many companies say they’re patient-centric, but it’s truly at the heart of everything we do.

Name something that has surprised you about MBC.

Everyone knows about breast cancer thanks to the pink movement. But there is a huge gap in MBC specifically. Even the way cases are reported do not breakdown MBC as a separate disease. People like Claire prove that a 25% 5-year survival rate is simply not enough. 

What unmet needs do you see with regard to helping patients living with metastatic breast cancer? 

The biggest unmet need by far is research. There is so much we don’t know about MBC. Despite advances in diagnosis and treatment, breast cancer is still the leading cause of cancer death for women worldwide. There are currently about 150,000 women in the US currently living with MBC. And 40% of them are still working and doing everything in their power to maintain normalcy in their lives. We owe it to them to better understand this disease. 

What excited you most about the recent Miami Breast and SABCS conferences?

Conferences are a great way to connect with the community (both healthcare professionals and patients), share our latest data like at SABCS, and to answer questions live with the oncology community. Knowing how laser focused we are on patients, I always find that connecting with real patients facing MBC reignites my passion for what we do and where we are going at Athenex Oncology. The comprehensive recap of data is also valuable for us as we continually pursue our pipeline and research in MBC and beyond. 

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