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Breast Cancer Symposium Puts San Antonio On Global Map

The San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium held each December has grown to represent one of the largest conferences in San Antonio. Since 1977 the meeting has grown to become the largest gathering of breast cancer experts in the world.

This year’s symposium drew more than 7,400 oncologists, nurses, researchers and breast cancer advocates from around the globe whose visit translated to more than $9 million in economic impact for the city. Add exhibitors, sponsors and staff and the number of attendees grows to 7,625. 

The impact of the world’s largest breast cancer conference can be measured directly in economic terms, but also in terms of bringing together many cultures for the common goal of expanding research.

Dr. Ismail Jatoi, chief of surgical oncology at the U.T. Health Science Center, said the growing conference has allowed developing countries to participate in research in ways that will affect global health.

"So what we're seeing now is more people coming in from places like India, Turkey, South America, and China," Jatoi said. "This last year, for example, we had two very important presentations which I think are going to have practice-changing implications. One of them was from India and the other one was from Turkey. This had to do with the effect of local therapy on patients who present with metastatic breast cancer."

Steve Clanton, VP of sales and services with the San Antonio Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the breast cancer symposium is the second-largest conference that chooses San Antonio year after year.

"Breast cancer also has a lot of pharmaceutical companies, a lot of exhibitors who come in to wine and dine the doctors," Clanton said. He added that you can't get a seat in a good restaurant for the five days of the breast cancer conference.

"But mostly it's not so much a trade show as it is presentation of papers. So there's a lot of interest from all over the world," Clanton said. 

Although the breast cancer conference is an annual event for San Antonio, other single-year medical conferences have lucrative effects. The American Dental Association conference this October is expected to register 40,000 participants for five days. 

Eileen Pace is a veteran radio and print journalist with a long history of investigative and feature reporting in San Antonio and Houston, earning more than 50 awards for investigative reporting, documentaries, long-form series, features, sports stories, outstanding anchoring and best use of sound.