By Will Fitzgerald, MD Anderson Staff Writer
Fifty years from now when an author is compiling a review of modern cancer therapy for a historical publication, he'll undoubtedly recognize the accomplishments of Gabriel Hortobagyi, M.D., a visionary cancer physician and researcher whose discoveries saved countless women from breast cancer.
He first became familiar with the disease walking the hallways of an Ohio hospital during his internal medicine residency. Hortobagyi was intrigued by the opportunity to help patients conquer a disease that posed more questions than answers. More than 40 years later, this pursuit still passionately consumes his career as a physician in MD Anderson's Department of Breast Medical Oncology and through collaborations around the world.
Today, at the 35th annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, Hortobagyi was presented with the William L. McGuire Memorial Lecture Award for his outstanding achievements.
"It's very humbling and gratifying to be selected by one's peers because everyone on the selection committee is a very accomplishment individual," Hortobagyi said. "It's very meaningful for me, and, of course, it's recognition of our group's accomplishments."
Among his notable contributions was research that determined chemotherapy could reduce large breast tumors by up to 50 percent before surgery. In 1988, Hortobagyi published a 10-year study showing that a three-drug regimen administered before surgery showed promising results for patients with advanced disease. This approach was later applied with increased success to earlier stages of inoperable cancer.
Additionally, he's credited with establishing the role of bisphosphonates, a class of drugs used to treat osteoporosis, in the management of patients whose disease spread to their bones. With more than 600 articles published in scientific journals, his lifetime of service dedicated to the benefit of others speaks for itself.
Select the accompanying video to learn more about Hortobagyi's thoughts on receiving the McGuire Award and where he believes the field of breast cancer is headed in the future.