Current Breast Cancer Research

Relationship between Breast Cancer and Estrogen Replacement Therapy

  • Current or recent past users of hormonal replacement therapy (HRT) have a higher risk of breast cancer diagnosis
  • Many postmenopausal women took HRT for many years to ease menopausal symptoms (hot flashes, fatigue) and reduce bone loss

There are two main types of HRT:

  • Combination HRT increases breast cancer risk by about 75%
  • Estrogen-only HRT increases the risk of breast cancer when used for more than 10 years.

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Potential of 3D Mammography

  • When used for breast cancer screening, 3D mammogram machines create 3D images and 2D mammogram images.
  • Studies show that a combination of 3D and standard mammograms decreases the need for additional imaging and slightly increases the number of cancers detected.
  • Future studies aim to understand whether 3D mammograms may reduce the risk of dying of breast cancer more than a standard mammogram alone.

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Precision Medicine & Breast Cancer Screening

  • One of the main goals of precision medicine for cancer is to use information about genetics and molecular changes to determine the best treatment for a patient.
  • There has been an increased effort in bringing precision to cancer screening especially in the area of breast cancer.
  • In 2015, researchers in California launched a clinical trial to test a new approach to breast cancer screening: The Women Informed to Screen Depending on Measures of Risk
    • This trial is using many measures, such as safety, to compare annual mammography with a more personalized approach called “risk-based screening.”

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Vitamin D Deficiency & Cancer Risk

Vitamin D Foods

  • New studies have suggested that a deficiency in vitamin D is associated with tumor progression and metastasis in breast cancer.
  • The study identified a relationship between vitamin D levels and the expression of ID1, an oncogene associated with tumor growth and metastasis in breast cancer.
    • The study findings were published in Endocrinology.
    • Vitamin D is obtained from food and supplements or made by the body in response to sun exposure.

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Association between Alzheimer’s Gene and Cognitive Problems in Cancer Patients

  • New findings may shed light on genetic risk factors for developing cancer-related cognitive problems.
  • The clinical study results point to the importance of the E4 version of the APOE gene, a risk factor for late-onset Alzheimer’s disease.
  • In the study, published October 2018 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, older women with breast cancer who were treated with chemotherapy and were carriers of the E4 allele were more likely to have cognitive problems.
  • The results also suggest that older women with breast cancer who carried the E4 allele were more likely to have cognitive problems after chemotherapy than women without the allele.

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Targeted Therapies for Breast Cancer

Treatment of breast cancer like most other cancers has undergone phenomenal changes in the last decade. Although traditional chemotherapy along with surgery and radiotherapy remains the backbone of treatment of breast cancer, we now have many non chemotherapeutic options, especially for metastatic or stage 4 breast cancer.

Targeted therapies are drugs that block the growth and spread of cancer by interfering with specific molecules (molecular targets) that are involved in the growth, progression and spread of cancer. These therapies are currently the focus of much anticancer drug development and are a cornerstone of precision medicine, a form of medicine that uses information about a person’s genes and proteins to prevent, diagnose and treat disease.

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