International workshop on breast cancer research headed to Kona

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In an ongoing effort to understand and treat breast cancer, more than 100 physicians, researchers, allied health professionals and advocates will gather in Kailua-Kona in June to attend the 10th International Breast Density & Cancer Risk Assessment Workshop.

Topics will cover screening methods, next-generation imaging and clinical considerations of breast density.

The three-day workshop runs June 7 to 9 at the Marriott King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel. The community is invited to the open poster session on June 8 at 4 p.m. The session is free and there is no need to register.

Courtesy of Kaiser Permanente

It will be an opportunity for the public to meet some of the presenters and to see all the great research about breast cancer, which is the most common cancer diagnosed in women in Hawaiʻi. An average of 155 women die annually in the state because of the disease.


The conference is organized and co-chaired by University of Hawaiʻi Cancer Center researcher John Shepherd, who is known for his work in quantitative imaging, particularly biomarkers from medical imaging using advanced machine learning techniques.

“Other than age, breast density is the strongest common risk factor for breast cancer,” Shepherd said. “This very successful workshop series is held in Hawaiʻi every two years to explore new findings and concepts that have occurred in this rapidly developing field.”

The international conference will include 16 speakers, oral presentations from abstract submissions and poster sessions. Discussions and presentations will encompass factors from breast imaging to risk modeling.


The University of Hawai’i Cancer Center leads research on breast cancer risk and reducing advanced breast cancer stage rate among unique races and ethnicities in Hawaiʻi and the Pacific using breast imaging.

Recently, the Food and Drug Administration updated the Mammography Quality Standards Act to require mammography facilities to inform women about the density of their breasts. According to the National Cancer Institute, women with dense breasts have a higher risk of breast cancer than women with fatty breasts.

“Breast density is an important risk factor for breast cancer and the primary goal of the workshop is to explore new and important information relating to breast cancer risk factors and the biology of breast density,” officials with the cancer center stated. “For attendees, our hope is also that the connections they make with colleagues will extend beyond the workshop. The networking at the workshop leads to international collaboration that can only improve the outcomes of women with breast cancer.”


An attendee of the workshop in past years, Kimberly Bertrand, associate professor of medicine from Boston University Chobanian and Avedisian School of Medicine, is returning to the event as an invited speaker. Her presentation titled “High Mammographic Density in Black Women: Determinants and Association with Breast Cancer,” is part of an added workshop section dedicated to disparity and underrepresented groups.

The international workshop has been held biennially since 2002 in San Francisco. In 2019, the event was hosted for the first time in Honolulu by the University of Hawai‘i Cancer Center, where Shepherd, co-chair of the event, has been relocated. The goal is to continue to host the workshop on different islands as each island has aspects that make it unique and organizers want to offer as much value to attendees and the community as possible.

Click here to learn more about the workshop.

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