The research interests and practice of Jennifer M. Racz, M.D., are in the field of surgical oncology, with a particular focus on the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer and melanoma. Areas of specific interest include oncoplastic breast surgery, neoadjuvant chemotherapy, patient-reported outcomes after breast surgery and intralesional treatment of advanced melanoma.
- Minimizing breast and axillary surgery after neoadjuvant chemotherapy. A notable research focus area of Dr. Racz is on the role of minimizing breast surgery in patients with a complete radiological and pathological response in the breast after treatment with neoadjuvant chemotherapy. These patients are usually treated with either a lumpectomy or mastectomy after neoadjuvant chemotherapy regardless of treatment response. Dr. Racz will be the site principal investigator of a multicenter national study (NRG-BR005) designed to explore the feasibility of breast-conserving treatment without surgery in patients who have a clinical and radiological complete response after neoadjuvant therapy. This study will ultimately serve as a pilot study for a larger successor trial comparing surgery with no surgery for patients with a complete pathologic response after chemotherapy.
- Health outcomes. Dr. Racz's MBA has equipped her with additional skills that have enabled her to pursue research regarding health outcomes, system processes, implementation and approval of new medical devices. Currently, she is involved in a large study that is designed to evaluate patient-reported outcomes after different types of breast surgery with or without reconstruction.
- Intralesional therapy for patients with advanced melanoma. Dr. Racz is interested in alternative treatment options for patients with advanced metastatic melanoma who are not amenable to surgical resection. She initiated the T-VEC program at Mayo Clinic, which has provided patients with a new option for intralesional therapy if they have failed other topical, intralesional or systemic therapies and are no longer candidates for surgery based on the burden of their disease. As part of her interest, Dr. Racz is also involved in research investigating the side effects and risk profile of these agents both during and after treatment to better understand which patients are at higher risk of developing complications from this form of treatment.
Significance to patient care
The results of the NRG-BR005 study may lead to a successor trial that would have potential to change the disease management of breast cancer. Women with breast cancer who are treated with chemotherapy prior to surgery and are felt to have a complete clinical and radiological response could potentially avoid the morbidity associated with either lumpectomy or mastectomy.
The treatment of melanoma is evolving rapidly with the introduction of novel agents at an extremely fast pace. A key element of intralesional therapy is to understand not only the mechanism of action but also the synergistic action that these agents may have with systemic immunotherapy. Recent studies demonstrate favorable patient outcomes with combined therapy but further trials are required to delineate the optimal treatment regimen.