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What Effect Has Breast Cancer Research Had On Society

Risk Factors You Can Change

Milestones in Oncology: Targeted Therapies for Breast Cancer
  • Not being physically active. Women who are not physically active have a higher risk of getting breast cancer.
  • Being overweight or obese after menopause. Older women who are overweight or obese have a higher risk of getting breast cancer than those at a normal weight.
  • Taking hormones. Some forms of hormone replacement therapy taken during menopause can raise risk for breast cancer when taken for more than five years. Certain oral contraceptives also have been found to raise breast cancer risk.
  • Reproductive history. Having the first pregnancy after age 30, not breastfeeding, and never having a full-term pregnancy can raise breast cancer risk.
  • Drinking alcohol. Studies show that a womans risk for breast cancer increases with the more alcohol she drinks.

Research suggests that other factors such as smoking, being exposed to chemicals that can cause cancer, and changes in other hormones due to night shift working also may increase breast cancer risk.

Less Invasive And Less Toxic Techniques

The sentinel lymph node technique identified the first lymph nodes where the cancer could spread. This allows for the removal of fewer lymph nodes.

Studies have also found that shorter courses of radiation and more targeted forms of radiation therapy can be just as effective as longer courses of radiation. This includes delivery radiation therapy during surgery for some patients.

Additionally, targeted and biologic therapies may allow doctors to avoid chemotherapy in certain situations. A large 2018 study indicated that adjuvant endocrine therapy and chemoendocrine therapy were similarly effective in certain types of breast cancer.

Societal Impacts Of Treatment Of Early Breast Cancer: Implications For Future Research Policy And Practice

Early breast cancer has impacts beyond clinical outcomes, and indirect impacts in particular are not well understood. Researchers found that the economic impact of early breast cancer is not being linked to investing in treatment for early breast cancer.

Further, existing effective treatment for early breast cancer may lead policymakers and payers to underestimate the need for investment in further improvements and innovation in the treatment and delivery of care in early breast cancer.

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Breast Mri Shows Iuds Have Systemic Effects

by Radiological Society of North America

Intrauterine contraceptive devices appear to have systemic effects on the body like those of hormone replacement therapy, according to a breast MRI study being presented next week at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America .

“It has been claimed that IUDs have a purely local effect on the uterus,” said Luisa Huck, M.D., radiology resident in the Department of Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology at RWTH Aachen University in Aachen, Germany. “Our study results suggest that this is not true.”

Levonorgestrel-releasing IUDs are used by tens of millions of women worldwide. They work by releasing a small amount of hormone into the uterus. Because the hormone is released directly into the uterus, the amount in the bloodstream is lower than with other hormonal methods. In theory, this limited area of release means that any side effects would be confined to the region around the IUD. However, emerging evidence suggests that LNG-IUDs can be associated with systemic side effects similar to those of systemic hormonal medication.

Christiane Kuhl, M.D., a leading breast cancer researcher and chief of the Department of Radiology at RWTH Aachen University noticed that women with a hormonal IUD in place often show higher background parenchymal enhancement on contrast-enhanced breast MRI. Background parenchymal enhancement the initial enhancement of normal breast tissueis a sensitive marker of hormone levels.

Having Dense Breast Tissue

What Effect Has Breast Cancer Research Had On Society ...

Breasts are made up of fatty tissue, fibrous tissue, and glandular tissue. Breasts appear denser on a mammogram when they have more glandular and fibrous tissue and less fatty tissue. Women with dense breasts on mammogram have a risk of breast cancer that is about 1 1/2 to 2 times that of women with average breast density. Unfortunately, dense breast tissue can also make it harder to see cancers on mammograms.

A number of factors can affect breast density, such as age, menopausal status, the use of certain drugs , pregnancy, and genetics.

To learn more, see our information on breast density and mammograms.

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Inheriting Certain Gene Changes

About 5% to 10% of breast cancer cases are thought to be hereditary, meaning that they result directly from gene changes passed on from a parent.

BRCA1 and BRCA2: The most common cause of hereditary breast cancer is an inherited mutation in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene. In normal cells, these genes help make proteins that repair damaged DNA. Mutated versions of these genes can lead to abnormal cell growth, which can lead to cancer.

  • If you have inherited a mutated copy of either gene from a parent, you have a higher risk of breast cancer.
  • On average, a woman with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation has up to a 7 in 10 chance of getting breast cancer by age 80. This risk is also affected by how many other family members have had breast cancer.
  • Women with one of these mutations are more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer at a younger age, as well as to have cancer in both breasts.
  • Women with one of these gene changes also have a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer and some other cancers.
  • In the United States, BRCA mutations are more common in Jewish people of Ashkenazi origin than in other racial and ethnic groups, but anyone can have them.

Other genes: Other gene mutations can also lead to inherited breast cancers. These gene mutations are much less common, and most of them do not increase the risk of breast cancer as much as the BRCA genes.

Mutations in several other genes have also been linked to breast cancer, but these account for only a small number of cases.

Breast Cancer Risk In Women With A Brca1/2 Inherited Gene Mutation

Women who have a BRCA1 or BRCA2 inherited gene mutation have an increased risk of breast cancer .

Estimates of risk are different for BRCA1 carriers and BRCA2 carriers. By age 70, the chance of developing breast cancer is :

  • 55-65 percent for women who have a BRCA1 gene mutation
  • 45-55 percent for women who have a BRCA2 gene mutation
  • 7 percent for women in the general population

This means by age 70:

  • In a group of 100 women with a BRCA1/2 gene mutation, 45-65 will get breast cancerIn a group of 100 women without a BRCA1/2 gene mutation, about 7 will get breast cancer

These numbers represent average risk, so the risk of breast cancer for any one woman with a BRCA1/2 gene mutation may fall outside this range.

Note these risks are not 100 percent. Many women with a BRCA1/2 gene mutation will never have breast cancer . A combination of factors likely causes breast cancer.

BRCA1/2 gene mutations are thought to explain a large portion of hereditary breast cancers .

Most breast cancers, however, are not related to inherited gene mutations.

Learn about genetic testing.

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Aging Breast Tissue Could Set The Stage For Invasive Breast Cancer

University of Notre Dame
A new study examines how the extracellular matrix — an underlying network of molecules and proteins that provide the structure for tissue growth — can trigger invasive cancer-related genes.

The American Cancer Society estimates that 284,200 women will be newly diagnosed with breast cancer in 2021, and 43,600 will die of the disease — the second highest cause of cancer death in women.

A woman’s risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer increases with age, but while scientists have long studied cellular changes that take place in the body over time, a new study led by researchers at the University of Notre Dame examines how the extracellular matrix — an underlying network of molecules and proteins that provide the structure for tissue growth — can trigger invasive cancer-related genes.

“This is the first time we’ve been able to show direct evidence that the aging ECM itself is changing the phenotype of normal epithelial cells,” said Pinar Zorlutuna, the Sheehan Family Collegiate Professor of Engineering at Notre Dame and principal investigator of the study, published in Advanced Science. “Clinical data shows that aging is a big risk factor for breast cancer, and we wanted to investigate why that is. Cellular aging has been explored, but what we didn’t know was what effect aging had on the extracellular matrix.”

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Brca1 Gene And Prostate Cancer

Targeted Therapies for Breast Cancer – Milestones in Oncology

Researchers have looked at the BRCA1 gene, which increases the risk of breast and ovarian cancer. The situation with prostate cancer is less clear and some studies have found that it doesnt significantly increase the risk of prostate cancer. We need more research to find out whether it does increase the risk.

A trial is looking at men who have an increased risk of developing prostate cancer because they have faulty BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes. The trial is looking at whether a blood test called prostate specific antigen combined with a biopsy, is a good way of picking up prostate cancer early in these men. It is called the IMPACT study.

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Relationships With Friends And Family

It’s not always easy to talk about cancer, either for you or your family and friends. You may sense that some people feel awkward around you or avoid you.

Being open about how you feel and what your family and friends can do to help may put them at ease. However, do not be afraid to tell them that you need some time to yourself if that’s what you need.

Want to know more?

Abortion And Breast Cancer Risk

Abortion is an issue that can bring out strong feelings in people. These feelings are often linked to personal, religious, and political views that may have little to do with any connection to a disease like cancer.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women , and its the second leading cancer killer in women. Because it can be a deadly disease, its one that many women fear.

Linking these topics creates a great deal of emotion and debate. But scientific research studies have not found a cause-and-effect relationship between abortion and breast cancer.

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What Are The Benefits Of Genetic Testing For Brca1 And Brca2 Variants

There can be benefits to genetic testing, regardless of whether a person receives a positive or a negative result.

The potential benefits of a true negative result include a sense of relief regarding the future risk of cancer, learning that one’s children are not at risk of inheriting the family’s cancer susceptibility, and the possibility that special check-ups, tests, or risk-reducing surgeries may not be needed.

A positive test result may allow people to make informed decisions about their future health care, including taking steps to reduce their cancer risk.

Chemotherapy For Breast Cancer

Clinical and translational research:

Chemotherapy uses anticancer drugs to destroy cancer cells. Many women with breast cancer have chemotherapy. Your healthcare team will consider the type of breast cancer you have and your personal needs to plan the drugs, doses and schedules of chemotherapy. You may also receive other treatments to help lessen the side effects of chemotherapy.

Chemotherapy is given for different reasons. You may have chemotherapy to:

  • shrink a large tumour before surgery when the cancer hasnt spread outside the breast or lymph nodes
  • destroy cancer cells left behind after surgery and reduce the risk that the cancer will come back
  • treat cancer that comes back
  • relieve pain or control the symptoms of advanced breast cancer

Chemotherapy is usually a systemic therapy. This means that the drugs travel through the bloodstream to reach and destroy cancer cells all over the body, including those that may have broken away from the primary tumour in the breast.

Chemotherapy is generally given every 3 weeks. Sometimes it is given every 2 weeks . Studies have shown that a dose-dense regimen may further lower the risk that breast cancer will come back and it may improve survival.

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How Might Hormone Levels Affect Breast Cancer Risk

A womans risk for some types of breast cancer is related to levels of certain hormones in the body. Breast cells normally grow and divide in response to hormones like estrogen, progesterone, and prolactin. Levels of these hormones change throughout a womans life.

Breast cancer risk can be affected by a number of things that alter these hormone levels. For example, women who have more menstrual periods over their lifetime have a slightly higher risk of breast cancer. The use of some types of hormones can also increase breast cancer risk slightly . On the other hand, breastfeeding might lower breast cancer risk slightly.

Are Men Less Likely To Get Breast Cancer Because Antiperspirant Gets Caught In Their Underarm Hair And Is Not Absorbed By Their Skin

Men are much less likely than women to develop breast cancer, mostly because men have much less breast tissue than women. Women have about 100 times more breast tissue than men and are about 100 times more likely to develop breast cancer.

Hormones also play a role. Men with metabolic or genetic conditions that lead to increased estrogen levels have an increased risk of developing breast cancer.

Underarm hair and antiperspirant absorption have not been linked to male breast cancer risk.

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Dealing With Changes To Your Body

A diagnosis of breast cancer may change how you think about your body. All women react differently to the physical changes that happen as a result of breast cancer treatment.

Some women react positively, but others find it more difficult to cope. It’s important to give yourself time to come to terms with any changes to your body.

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Von Hippel Lindau Syndrome

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Von Hippel Lindau syndrome is a rare inherited condition caused by faults in the VHL gene. Kidney cysts are common in VHL syndrome. These cysts do not usually affect how the kidney works, but sometimes a type of kidney cancer called clear cell renal cell cancer can develop in a cyst. People who carry the gene fault also have an increased risk of developing other rare cancers in the brain, spine, pancreas, eyes and inner ear.

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How Healthcare Is Changing To Keep People Safe

As anyone who has gone to a clinic or hospital in recent months knows, the pandemic is changing how healthcare is delivered. Healthcare facilities of all types and sizes are taking new steps to keep patients and staff from getting COVID-19.

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We all understand that COVID-19 is not going away, and so what we are all trying to do is adapt to the new normal so that we can limit exposures in the hospital and to healthcare workers, said Julie Sprunt, M.D., FACS, a breast surgeon with Texas Breast Specialists in Austin, Texas.

Some of the new safety strategies that healthcare facilities have adopted include:

Screening for COVID-19 symptoms

You are asked over the phone before a medical appointment and when you arrive at an appointment whether you have COVID-19 symptoms, have been in close contact to someone with COVID-19, or are waiting on an outstanding COVID-19 test result.

Some facilities ask these questions and take each persons temperature with a thermal scanner at the door, before they go into the building.

Universal masking

At many healthcare facilities, everyone patients and staff members must wear masks all the time.

More use of telemedicine

Physical distancing

COVID-19 testing before surgery and chemotherapy

Shorter hospital stays

Limiting visitors

Common Breast Cancer Mutations

Researchers have identified several key gene changes linked to breast cancer. Some of these pose a high risk, while others seem to be less significant.


The BRCA1 and BRCA2 inherited gene mutations are the most common cause of hereditary breast cancer. Mistakes in these genes account for up to 10% of all breast cancers. BRCA mutations also raise your chances for ovarian cancer, pancreatic cancer, and, in men, prostate cancer. A BRCA mutation may raise your chances of colon cancer. Women with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation have up to a 72% chance of breast cancer during their lifetime.


Normally, the PALB2 gene makes a protein that works with the BRCA2 gene protein to repair damaged DNA and stop tumor growth. But defects in the gene can lead to a higher likelihood of breast cancer. Some studies suggest that women with a PALB2 mutation have a 14% chance of breast cancer by age 50 and a 35% chance by age 70.




The HER2 gene makes a protein called HER2 . This protein is found on the surface of all breast cells and that helps them grow. If the HER2 gene malfunctions and makes too many copies of itself, it tells cells to make too much HER2 protein. This causes the cells to grow out of control.





Researchers have discovered many other genes related to breast cancer.

Changes in the following genes may also raise your chances:

  • BARD1

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Triple Negative Breast Cancer

Women who have a BRCA1 gene mutation tend to get breast cancers that are triple negative .

Triple negative breast cancers are:

  • Estrogen receptor-negative
  • HER2-negative

BRCA2 carriers tend to have breast cancers that are estrogen receptor-positive .

Learn about hormone receptor status, HER2 status and other factors that affect prognosis and treatment.


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