Carlos Arteaga, M.D.

Carlos Arteaga, M.D.

  • The Lisa K. Simmons Distinguished Chair in Comprehensive Oncology
  • Internal Medicine - Hematology/Oncology
  • Advanced, Inflammatory, Metastatic or Recurrent Breast Cancers
  • Breast Cancers

Biography

Carlos L. Arteaga, M.D., was appointed Director of the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center and Associate Dean of Oncology Programs at UT Southwestern Medical Center in September 2017. He holds the Lisa K. Simmons Distinguished Chair in Comprehensive Oncology and brings translational research and cancer center leadership experience to the Simmons Cancer Center.

He earned his medical degree at the University of Guayaquil in Ecuador and trained in internal medicine and medical oncology at Emory University and the University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio, respectively. Prior to UT Southwestern, he joined Vanderbilt University in 1989, where he held the Donna S. Hall Chair in Breast Cancer Research and served as Director of the Center for Cancer Targeted Therapies, Director of the Breast Cancer Program, and Associate Director for Translational/Clinical Research at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center. 

Dr. Arteaga is an internationally recognized expert in breast cancer with more than 350 publications in the areas of oncogenes and breast tumor initiation and progression, targeted therapies and biomarkers of drug action and resistance, and investigator-initiated clinical trials in breast cancer. His research is or has been continuously funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), American Cancer Society (ACS), Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program, Stand Up 2 Cancer (SU2C), Susan G. Komen and Breast Cancer Research foundations, Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas, and industry. 

His contributions have been published in Nature Medicine, Cancer Cell, Cancer Discovery, Science Translational Medicine, Journal of Clinical Oncology, Cell Metabolism, Journal of Clinical Investigation, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, and Journal of the National Cancer Institute

During his career, Dr. Arteaga has received several awards, including the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Richard & Hinda Rosenthal Award, the ACS Clinical Research Professor Award (2007-2017), the Gianni Bonadonna Award from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (2009), the Brinker Award from the Susan G. Komen Foundation (2011), the Prize for Scientific Excellence in Medicine from the American-Italian Cancer Foundation (2015), and the Clinical Investigator Award from the Department of Veteran Affairs. 

Dr. Arteaga is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2013) and Fellow of the AACR Academy (2015). He is an elected member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation (1998) and the Association of American Physicians (2005). He served in the NCI Board of Scientific Counselors (1999-2004) and NCI Subcommittee A (2004-2008). 

Dr. Arteaga also serves on the advisory boards of several academic breast cancer programs, SU2C, Susan G. Komen Foundation, and five NCI-designated cancer centers. Since 2009, he has co-chaired the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium. In 2019, he was elected to serve on the Board of Directors of the American Association of Cancer Institutes (AACI). He was elected and served as the 2014-15 President of AACR, the largest cancer research organization in the world.

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Meet Dr. Arteaga

World renowned breast cancer specialist and investigator

As one of the country’s leading physician scientists in the treatment and research of breast cancer, and with almost three decades of clinical experience, Carlos L. Arteaga, M.D., likes to talk about the good news he has for his patients.

“The treatment of breast cancer has evolved dramatically over the last 30 years,” he says. “As cancer care has become increasingly sophisticated, the mortality for breast cancer has been increasingly in decline.”

Dr. Arteaga joined UT Southwestern in 2017 to take the helm as Director of the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center and Associate Dean of Oncology Programs. He sees his position as the best way to continue his work in the remaking of cancer from a death sentence to a fallible foe.

Early Interventions Drive Optimal Outcomes

Dr. Arteaga points to a few things that have been key to the turning tides of breast cancer survival. 

“A main reason has been the wide use of screening mammograms, which allow detection of cancers when they are small and contained in the breast – and thus with high chances of cure. In addition, research and drug development have markedly improved treatments across all three breast cancer subtypes,” he says.

Early detection has had a huge impact in breast cancer outcomes. “If you go back 30 years,” Dr. Arteaga says, “probably 30 percent of breast cancers were diagnosed at stage 4 – when they are disseminated throughout the body and more difficult to cure. Today, however, women who are diagnosed at stage 4 breast cancer are a distinct minority.”

In fact, today many breast cancers are detected so early that a woman needs only limited surgery and adjuvant therapy in order to expect a full recovery.

Dr. Arteaga says that breast cancer care has also improved because of today’s multidisciplinary approach to treatment. 

“At UT Southwestern and other top cancer centers, a woman who receives a breast cancer diagnosis sees different breast specialists on day one. She might see a breast medical oncologist and a breast surgeon. And she might see other experts as well, such as a radiation oncologist, a plastic surgeon, and a genetic counselor.”

Dr. Arteaga says this collaborative approach to care at the time of cancer diagnosis significantly improves a woman’s outcomes.

The Rewards of Research

Another reason that breast cancer treatment has made so much progress is the abundance of new drugs and rational combinations being tested in clinical trials, which are the mechanism that allows physician scientists, such as Dr. Arteaga, and clinical investigators translate laboratory discoveries into approved therapies.

“Clinical trials are the only instrument we have as physicians and investigators to get new and better drugs approved,” he says.

Dr. Arteaga offers his patients the opportunity to participate in clinical trials whenever possible.

“A patient who is in a clinical trial is really getting the most superior care available,” he says. “These patients are being followed very closely, not only by a group of physicians but also by a team of nurses and other highly skilled providers.”

“By participating in clinical trials, our patients are a key part of the cancer research enterprise,” he says. “They have a perspective that we don't have as investigators. We cannot do it without them. They're an invaluable part of how we move forward.” 

Pushing the Leading Edge

Dr. Arteaga is eager to see how clinical research will continue to improve cancer care in the next 10 years. “But there are still many other issues that we have to face,” he notes.

“It's not all about the next best technology or treatment. We also have to keep in mind that there are issues with disparities of care and screening that are important. And those are things that UT Southwestern has addressed and will continue to address.”

Still too many patients die from cancer and we should honor them with renewed commitment to continue our efforts to reduce cancer mortality, Dr. Arteaga says. But there is every reason to have an optimistic outlook.

“We've made enormous progress,” he says. “I think that we live in an unprecedented time in the history of cancer care and cancer research. The momentum has never been greater. And I think the next 10 years are going to be transformative in the way we think of cancer, in the way we understand cancer, and in the way we go about treating it. It's going to be close to unimaginable.”

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Education & Training
  • Fellowship - University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio (1984-1988), Hematology Oncology
  • Medical School - Universidad de Guayaquil, Ecuador (1972-1980)
  • Residency - Emory University School of Medicine (1981-1984), Internal Medicine
Books & Publications

Clinical Focus

  • Advanced, Inflammatory, Metastatic or Recurrent Breast Cancers
  • Breast Cancers
  • Medical Treatment of Breast Cancer

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Q&A by Dr. Arteaga

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