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Plenary & Workshop Speakers

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Ava Kwong

Brief Biography of Professor Ava Kwong
M.B.B.S., BSc., PhD, F.R.C.S., F.R.C.S. (Edin), FCSHK, FHKAM (Surgery)

Professor Ava Kwong presently holds the position of the Chief of the Breast Surgery Division,
The University of Hong Kong and The University of Hong Kong – Shenzhen Hospital. She is
also a Director of Breast Centre of the Tung Wah Hospital and Clinical Professor of
Department of Surgery, The University of Hong Kong. She was the Assistant Dean
(Knowledge Exchange and Faculty Advancement) of the Faculty of Medicine, The University
of Hong Kong from 2013-2018 and also the Honorary Clinical Professor of the Department of
Medicine (Oncology) from 2015-2019. In addition, she is Honorary Consultant in Breast
Surgery at Hong Kong Sanatorium and Hospital. From 2006-2013, she held the position of
Visiting Associate Professor, Division of Oncology, at the Stanford University, USA.

In 2009, she founded the Women’s Surgical Chapter at the College of Surgeons of Hong Kong
and was elected to be the first Chairlady. In 2011, she became the first female council member
of the College of Surgeons of Hong Kong, where she served on the council until 2014. She is
also the first woman who has attained full Clinical Professor position in Surgery in Hong Kong.
In 2009, she was also elected as the Chair of the International Committee of the Association of
Women Surgeons, the United States of America where she served on the Council until 2012.

Aside from her clinical and academic positions, she contributes to the governmental bodies and
has been appointed to be a member of the Cancer Coordinating Committee of the Food and
Health Bureau, Government Secretariat, The Government of the Hong Kong Special
Administrative Region (HKSAR), The People’s Republic of China in August 2014, followed
by the appointment as a member of the Working Group on Colorectal and Breast Cancer
Screening for High Risk Groups and a member of the Expert Advisory Panel of Cancer, Cancer
Committee of the Hospital Authority Head Office, HKSAR. She is also a member of the Expert
Panel in the Cancer Genetics subcommittee to the Hospital Authority, HKSAR, and was
appointed aco-leader of the Cancer Work Group in the development of Cancer Services
planning of the Hong Kong West Cluster, Hospital Authority in 2012 being responsible in the
planning of cancer services for the new development plan of Queen Mary Hospital, and Hong
Kong West cluster.

In 2007, she founded the Hong Kong Hereditary Breast Cancer Family Registry, where she
currently serves as the Chairman; a charitable organization and research platform to support
genetic testing, risk management and data collection. She also established the Hong Kong
Hereditary and High Risk Breast and Ovarian Cancer Programme at the same time- a
collaborative programme between the Stanford University School of Medicine and Hong Kong
Sanatorium and Hospital with contributions from the Hospital Authority and university-based
hospitals both locally and internationally. In 2011, the Asian Hereditary Breast Cancer
Consortium was established for which she was a founding member. In the year of 2012, she
was elected Leader of the Asian Subgroup of CIMBA, an International Working Group for
Breast Cancer Genetics.

In 2013, she was elected to be the Deputy Chief and Committee Member of the Shenzhen
Breast and Endocrine Cancer Society, The People’s Republic of China, and became council
member of the Hong Kong Society of Breast Surgeons in 2014 and Honorary Advisor of Hong
Kong Breast Oncology Group.

During her surgical career, she has gained multiple awards and scholarships, including the
Hong Kong International Cancer Congress “Young Investigator Award” in 2006 and 2008 on
her research work on breast cancer genetics in Chinese and Asian population, the Breast
Surgery International Best Paper Prize, at the International Society of Surgery International
Surgical Week meeting in 2007, a scholarship for undertaking a research fellowship in Breast
Cancer Genetics at the Stanford University School of Medicine in 2005 and also GB Ong
Travelling Scholarship in 2016-2017. She is an enthusiastic teacher and trainer, and is a trainer
for the breast cancer surgery subspecialty at the College of Surgeons of Hong Kong. Her
supervision of residents, PhD and Master Students have also led to over 15 awards on abstracts
presented in local and international meetings. She also has much interest in training of nurses
and is the Director of the Breast Cancer Nursing Workshop and Course which has been held
annually since 2008 and is a teacher in Master Courses in the University of Hong Kong as well
as the Open University and Commissioned training programmes of the Hospital Authority.

Her main research interests include breast and ovarian cancer genetics, advanced surgical
technologies, epidemiology, psychosocial studies and clinical trials in oncological treatment.
These have led to over 160 publications in reputable international journals and she is an
Editorial Board member of a number of peer reviewed journals including JNCI. She has
received various grants to support her research including Hong Kong government based grants
such as Food and Health Bureau HHSRF, The Innovation and Technology Fund, Research
Grant Council (RGC)/General Research Fund (GRF), and international grants including
National Institute of Health in the United States of America and Asian Fund for Cancer
Research (AFCR). In 2015, with the School of Public Health of The University of Hong Kong,
she succeeded in getting the prestigious Hong Kong Government Commissioned grant from
Health and Medical Research Fund (HMRF) to study the “Risk of Breast Cancer in Hong Kong:
Development ad Validation of Risk Prediction Model and Surveillance Study” as a Co-
Principle Investigator. In 2018, she was awarded a 12 million RMB San Ming Project of
Medicine Grant from the Health and Family Planning Commission of Shenzhen Municipality,
Government of Shenzhen, China.

She has authored various chapters in medical books including “ABC of Breast Disease”
published by British Medical Journal, Companion to Specialist Surgical Practice: Breast
Surgery Volume: 5th Edition and 6th Edition, “Up to Date” on-line medical website based in
the United States, and also patient information books published in Hong Kong and wrote
monthly medical columns in Jessica Magazine to promote health awareness. In December
2015, she published her first authored book “Healing Breast Cancer with Love” , writing
stories of breast cancer patients and how patients and medical personals reflect on each other’s
lives to raise the public awareness on breast cancer in the community.

Aside from her academic, clinical and author work she is also very supportive of patients
support groups and awareness programmes. In 2008, she was nominated a consultant for the
Global Chinese Breast Cancer Groups Alliance and The Dragon Abreast patient advocacy
group. She is the medical consultant of various charity organizations including Hong Kong
Cancer Fund, Kerry Kuok Foundation, and Joshua Hellmann Foundation for rare pediatric
genetic disease. She has been appointed the World Pink Ambassador by Estee Lauder (Hong
Kong) Companies’ Breast Cancer Research Foundation since 2008 to promote breast cancer
awareness.

Her contributions in the academic, community and charity work has won herself community
based awards including the Jessica Magazine’s “Ten Most Successful Women Award” in 2009
and Marie Claire Magazine’s “Fashion with Heart” award in 2010, the “Most InspiringWomen
Award in 2015”, Just Gold “Real Woman Award” in 2016 and Adventist Hospital Foundation’s
“ Women of Hope” in 2018.

Hereditary breast cancer and management options for genetic mutation carrier

Mutations due to hereditary related genes such as BRCA1, BRCA2, TP53, PTEN and PALB2 confer greater risk of developing breast cancer and for BRCA mutations, and where relevant, also ovarian cancer. The risk assessment based on genetic testing allows options of high risk surveillance, prevention and may now also guide use of specific therapies for treatment such as targeted therapies and use of platinum base chemotherapy. Prophylactic surgery (bilateral mastectomy, bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy or a combination of both procedures) has proved to be the most effective risk-reducing strategy for breast cancer and ovarian cancer but there are no randomised controlled trials able to demonstrate the potential benefits or harms of prophylactic surgery and most of the evidence has been derived from retrospective and short follow-up prospective studies, in addition to hypothetical mathematical models. Based on the current knowledge, it is reasonable to recommend prophylactic oophorectomy for BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation carriers when childbearing is completed in order to reduce the risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer. In addition, women should be offered the options of intensive breast surveillance, chemoprevention or bilateral prophylactic mastectomy. The selection of the most appropriate risk-reducing strategy however is not simple. The impact of risk-reducing strategies on cancer risk, survival, and overall quality of life are the key criteria considered for decision-making. Various other factors should be taken into consideration when evaluating individual mutation carriers’ individual situation, namely woman’s age, morbidity, type of mutation, and individual preferences and expectations. Various strategies, existing guidelines and surgical options will be reviewed and discussed.

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