Mind the (breast cancer) gap

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Breast Cancer Awareness Month has arrived and with it comes the spotlight that will inevitably fall upon researchers and their work in the field. Significant strides have already been made in understanding this disease but there are still many more questions that remain unanswered. Just what is missing from our knowledge is highlighted in a major new study published in Breast Cancer Research.

Co-ordinated by Breast Cancer Campaign and combining the efforts of more than 100 breast cancer specialists, the ‘Gap Analysis’ provides an update on the 2008 article published previously in Breast Cancer Research. In the current paper, nine thematic areas were evaluated: genetics, epigenetics and epidemiology; molecular pathology and cell biology; hormonal influences and endocrine therapy; imaging, detection and screening; current/novel therapies and biomarkers; drug resistance; metastasis, angiogenesis, circulating tumour cells, cancer ‘stem’ cells; risk and prevention; and living with and managing breast cancer and its treatment. From this, 10 major ‘gaps’ were identified. These ranged from understanding the changes in normal breast development and during malignancies, to improving support for survivors. By targeting research on these gaps, the authors believe that improvements to clinical care will be achievable within the next five years.

Corresponding author, Professor Sue Eccles (The Institute of Cancer Research, UK), explains further: “We now know that breast cancer cells can have different characteristics, even within the same tumor, and these can also change over time. This makes it much more complex to research and is why we need greater collaboration between multi-disciplinary teams and an improved infrastructure, to ensure we are getting the data and tissue samples needed to advance our research knowledge.”

Our knowledge of breast cancer continues to improve at a fast rate. Studies like the Gap Analysis help to ensure that each area of this broad and complex disease is highlighted, and will serve to keep up the momentum needed to eventually find a cure in the future.

So, where do you think the field will be in another five years time?

Breast Cancer Research is the leading research journal in the breast cancer field. All of the research articles in Breast Cancer Research are open access. Sign up for article alerts to keep up to date with the latest ground-breaking research published in Breast Cancer Research during this Breast Cancer Awareness Month.