Today’s column inches shine a spotlight on how researchers have identified four key ‘gaps’ in our knowledge of preventing breast cancer for future generations.
The study, which was led by Genesis’ scientific director, Professor Tony Howell, for Breast Cancer Campaign (BCC), revealed that we need to focus on four key areas if we’re to achieve our goal: risk estimation, preventative therapy, lifestyle and biology of risk.
It is extremely encouraging to see organisations such as BCC now shedding light on prediction and prevention, rather than concentrating solely on the treatment of the disease, as is often the case with cancer charities.
Our aim has always been to stop women from ever having to hear the heartbreaking news that they have breast cancer. Our researchers work tirelessly to explore new ways in which we can stop the disease before it starts and offer advice to women about what steps they can take to lower their risk.
Although the majority of press coverage has focused on a preventative drug called anastrozole, another part of the gap analysis highlighted how breast density is also a major risk factor. Density is measured as the proportion of gland (tissue that makes milk) to fat within the breast, and this varies greatly from one individual to another. Women with denser breasts at breast screening age have a higher risk of breast cancer – in fact, women with more than 75 per cent dense breasts have a five times higher risk of developing breast cancer.
So, if we can identify which women have high density – through 3D mammography, for example – then we can take the necessary steps to try to lower their risk of developing the disease. This may be through drugs, such as tamoxifen, which has been approved by NICE for preventative use.
As the country’s only charity which is entirely dedicated to the prediction and prevention of breast cancer, it is wonderful to see other charities joining our cause to create a breast cancer free future for all.
Read comments from our scientific directors in today’s papers: