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Advances in Health and Medicine

Bernard Fisher: Rethinking Cancer Care


Research by Pitt’s Bernard Fisher has extended and improved the lives of many thousands of women suffering from breast cancer, while fundamentally altering understanding of the disease.

In honoring Fisher in 1985 with the Albert Lasker Clinical Medical Research Award, one of the most respected science prizes in the world, the Lasker Foundation noted: “Each year more than 119,000 women in the United States develop breast cancer. Dr. Bernard Fisher has done more than any other single individual to advance the understanding of the clinical biology of breast cancer. He has conceptually reshaped and improved the treatment of breast cancer, extending and enriching the lives of women suffering from this dread disease.”

Fisher was the first to show that less-invasive lumpectomy surgery treated breast cancer just as effectively as did disfiguring radical mastectomies. In addition, he proved the effectiveness of postoperative systemic chemotherapy and hormonal therapy. In one of his most important studies, Fisher found that breast cancer could be prevented in women at high risk for the disease.