Breast cancer research collaboration across and beyond Asia

Intro text: 

- Monday 7 May 2018 - 


On 6 April 2018 leading cancer experts from East Asia were invited together with BIG representatives to the Asian Breast Cancer Networking business meeting (ABCN) that took place in Incheon, Korea, and aimed to discuss clinical trial collaboration and mentorship across and beyond Asia.

Taking place during the Global Breast Cancer Conference (GBCC), the ABCN programme involved a special speech by Dr Fatima Cardoso (Champalimaud Clinical Centre, Portugal) about her own international journey and lessons gleaned about mentorship and collaboration. Presentations were also made by several East Asian groups, including Dr Seock-Ah Im for the Korean Cancer Study Group (KCSG). Dr Shinji Ohno, Representative Director of the Japan Breast Cancer Research Group (JBCRG) and member of BIG’s Executive Board, concluded the “Opportunities and Challenges” part of the programme with a talk about the East Asian cancer research groups that are part of the BIG network and their efforts and initiatives to increase collaboration in their region as well as at the international level.

The East Asian research groups of the BIG network

Representatives of the BIG East Asian research groups BDPCC, CTRG, HKBOG, JBCRG, KCSG, TCOG and TSCO* have been meeting regularly with BIG Headquarters for the last two years – the last meeting took place in San Antonio in December 2017 – to exchange ideas on how to optimise collaboration in their region, but also on how to increase their participation in international clinical trials under the BIG umbrella.

Together, they have been discussing the most significant challenges and opportunities for breast cancer research experienced either by their groups in particular or of importance in Asia in general, and have decided to conceive a plan of action that will also encourage the involvement of early-career investigators in clinical research projects.

Their plan of action includes the following:

  • to hold a workshop for early-career investigators from the BIG East Asian groups, and develop new clinical trial ideas with them;
  • to publish one or more manuscripts about the breast cancer situation across various East Asian countries, with a focus on local research activity, guidelines and challenges;
  • to organise fundraising activities in the context of GBCC or other events to support the BIG-East Asian Groups’ collaboration.    

The participation of BIG East Asian groups at the recent ABCN meeting is an important step forward to strengthen academic collaboration in Asia and enhance the groups’ involvement in international clinical trials.


The Asian Breast Cancer Networking Business Meeting

The ABCN meeting is hosted by the Korean Breast Cancer Society (KBCS) and supported by the Korea Breast Cancer Foundation. Since 2014 it takes place every year during GBCC, with the aim to discuss win-win cooperation initiatives among ABC networking countries.

Over the years, the ABCN has contributed to build bridges and strengthen cooperation among Asian cancer experts. This year, the meeting gathered over 60 participants from 13 countries. And the 2018 meeting moderator, Dr Sung-Bae Kim, to emphasise:

“We understand collaboration as a key to effective research and its efficient translation to the clinic”.

Cancer research in Asia

40% of women with breast cancer live in Asia, and the growing interest in research by breast cancer specialists across the region has the potential to speed up advances in treatment for patients at both local and global levels.

In the 20 years since BIG was established, Asian researchers have more than tripled their contribution to the organisation’s registration studies, from nine to 30% of participants, and there is a strong commitment to increased participation in purely academic studies too.

In June 2017, BIG welcomed into its network four new academic research groups, including organisations based in South Korea, Thailand and China, and looks forward to increased Asian input in the development and conduct of future international studies.


*The BIG East Asian cancer research groups:


  • BDPCC:  Breast Disease Professional Committee of CMEA
  • CTRG : Cancer Therapeutics Research Group
  • HKBOG : Hong Kong Breast Oncology Group
  • JBCRG : Japan Breast Cancer Research Group
  • KCSG : Korean Cancer Study Group
  • TCOG : Taiwan Cooperative Oncology Group 
  • TSCO : Thai Society of Clinical Oncology