(Vienna, 24-04-2017) Following the international advertisement, as at 15 April, Günther Steger, breast cancer expert of the Medical University of Vienna and the Vienna General Hospital, was appointed to the newly established endowed professorship for internal-oncological breast cancer research at the Department of Medicine I.
Breast cancer is the most frequent malignant tumour in women; its frequency has increased significantly during the past 25 years: in 1970/80 only every twelfth woman had to expect the development of breast cancer; today, every eighth woman in the western world is confronted with this cancer diagnosis. In Austria, approx. 6000 women (and approx. 60 men) contract breast cancer every year. While mortality also increased continuously parallel to the increasing frequency up to the year 2000, a reversal of this development could be observed during the past 10 to 15 years. Today, approx. 25-30% less patients die from this cancer compared to just 25 years ago.
This trend reversal surely is partially due to improved early recognition based on the development of radiological techniques such as mammography, ultrasound and MRI; however, for the most part, the research and development of increasingly effective medication has contributed to this clear reduction in mortality.
Next to classic, cytostatic chemotherapy and various hormonal and anti-hormonal medications, also immunological and molecular biological therapy processes were developed and implemented during the past 10 years, which are applied throughout all stages of the disease. Additionally, these new medicinal therapy options can also be better tailored to the patients as it has since become known that the diagnosis of "breast cancer" has a host of different biological sub-groups, which accordingly require different medicinal therapy approaches. Today, it is therefore possible to achieve much greater effectiveness at a simultaneous reduction of unnecessary and partially grave therapy side effects by personalising and individualising the therapy options.
New approaches permit new treatment methods
This significant increase in various medicinal therapy options internationally leads to the establishment of respective divisions and professorships at universities and breast centres, which expedite the development by respectively focussing on preclinical, but particularly clinically applied research in this important sub-discipline of clinical oncology. With the installation and establishment of the endowed professorship for "internal-oncological breast cancer research" as the first of such academic establishments in the German-speaking area it is now – in line with the principle of the Medical University of Vienna "Generating knowledge, imparting knowledge and applying knowledge" – also ensured that optimal academic and clinical conditions exist for this important research sector in medical oncology in Austria.
Regarding the person
Günther Steger, born in Vienna and father of three children, is a specialist for internal medicine and haemato-oncology. A research period led him to the University of California (UCLA) during the nineties. In 1993, he habilitated in the discipline of inner medicine and became Extraordinary University Professor in 1998. As programme director at the Department of Medicine I, he managed the programmes "Breast cancer", "Adjuvant therapies" and "Predictive factors" until today. He is a member of the Executive Committee of the Breast Health Centre (Brustgesundheitszentrum - bgz) of the Medical University of Vienna /Vienna General Hospital and a member of the board of the Austrian Society for Senology (Österreichische Gesellschaft für Senologie - ÖGS), where he held the position of President from 2009 to 2010.
Günther Steger is a long-standing member of the Chair and the Executive Committee of the Austrian Breast and Colorectal Study Group (ABCSG). Since 2015, he is the Austrian delegate at the Multidisciplinary Joint Committee Breast Care of the Union Européenne Médecins Spécialistes (UEMS) and furthermore received numerous awards and prizes, such as recently the Roche Science Award 2016. He is the co-editor and reviewer of several international oncological journals and expert for, e.g. the FWF and the grant of the mayor of the City of Vienna (Bürgermeisterfonds der Stadt Wien). His scientific oeuvre currently comprises more than 530 publications (h-factor: 42).