The research interests of Tina J. Hieken, M.D., are diverse and include clinical and translational investigations focused on breast cancer and melanoma. Dr. Hieken's specific interests include novel technologies and minimally invasive techniques, quality improvement, and clinical applications of molecular signatures in cancer and cancer risk prediction.
- Understanding the relationship of the human microbiome and breast cancer. Dr. Hieken has initiated pilot work to explore the existence of a microbiome within human breast tissue in benign and malignant disease states.
- Using advanced imaging modalities to facilitate individualized surgical management of breast cancer and melanoma patients. She is involved in preoperative assessment of nodal disease burden to tailor surgical treatment.
- Benign breast disease. In an effort to enhance breast cancer risk stratification and to develop more-individualized risk-reduction strategies, Dr. Hieken is working with the established Mayo Clinic Benign Breast Disease Cohort Study Group to investigate new molecular predictors of breast cancer risk.
Significance to patient care
Breast cancer and melanoma both remain significant public health challenges. The emotional and physical toll of surgical treatment can be a significant detriment to patient well-being even when a favorable prognosis is expected. Efforts to identify at-risk patients to individualize care and minimize intrusive therapies have the potential to improve the quality of life and cancer-specific outcomes for hundreds of thousands of patients with breast cancer or melanoma.
Better characterization of biomarkers for breast cancer risk has the potential to benefit hundreds of thousands of affected women. This work has the potential to lead to novel strategies to decrease risk, and pathogenesis studies that might ensue from this work have the potential for major impacts on public health. Characterization of the molecular-based risk markers has value for breast cancer risk prediction and presents an opportunity for high-impact novel breast cancer prevention therapies, including novel pharmacological risk-reducing agents and vaccines.