With October in full swing, Breast Cancer Awareness Month is underway to highlight the importance of breast cancer prevention, early detection and prompt treatment. Understanding the risk factors for breast cancer is key for prevention, and in BMC Medicine we take a look at how genetic and environmental factors contribute to the chance of developing the disease.
Can disease risk genes be modified by environmental factors?
While a number of validated genes are known to confer breast cancer risk, increasing evidence suggests that certain behavioral factors, such as alcohol consumption and smoking, are thought to modify the effect of genetic risk markers. In a commentary article published as part of our Spotlight on breast cancer article collection,
Deborah Gilbert from Bowel & Cancer Research and Mohamed A Thaha the National Centre for Bowel Research and Surgical Innovation at Queen Mary University of London discuss a recent article published in BMC Medicine in which it has been found that adoption of a combination of five key healthy behaviors is associated with a reduction in the risk of developing bowel cancer.
Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most prevalent cancer and the second most common cancer killer. In recent decades, although cancer care has improved and more people survive longer, many CRC cases are still diagnosed at a late stage, when survival is much less likely. For this reason, much attention is now focused on …
A consortium of six leading UK medical research charities will support the costs of making research articles from their funded research immediately and freely openly available to scientists, patients, and donors alike, through the recently announced joint Charity Open Access Fund. David Carr of the Wellcome Trust, Sanjay Thakrar of the British Heart Foundation and Matt Kaiser of Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research explain how this new partnership came about.
As charitable funders of medical research, we are dedicated to maximizing the societal benefits that flow from the research we fund. We know that making research publications openly available ensures that the knowledge and data they contain can be more widely accessed, corroborated and used to advance research …
A guest blog from co-Editor-in-Chief of Vascular Cell, Jan Kitajewski, in which he discusses the potential of using the newly developed lenvatinib as an anti-angiogenic therapy in the treatment of thyroid cancer.
Blood vessels can be thought to function as do the roots of a tree, acting to nourish both near and far reaches of the living organism. Despite the amazing capacity of blood vessels to keep your tissues healthy, your blood vessels can be diverted toward more insidious purpose. Tumors attract and accept new blood vessels that they recruit from neighboring tissues. This process of tumor angiogenesis acts to assure that the growing tumor is nourished and provides a path for tumor cells to travel to distant sites.
Last year, a rainbow coalition of civil liberties campaigners, cancer patients and eminent geneticists – heck, even Jim Watson! – argued before the US Supreme Court that gene sequences are a product of nature and therefore ineligible for patent protection.
And the Supreme Court replied, in all its refined wisdom:
A nine-to-nothing unanimous decision.
A difference of opinion
But the US has long known that truths held to be 'self-evident' are not always in for a smooth ride, and so we perhaps should not be too surprised – if still perplexed and saddened – to learn that the Australian Federal Court, when faced with the same question, responded: 'um, maybe not'.
I do not pretend to understand what brand of logic could …
Research published today in Genome Biology could improve treatments, and the targeting of treatments, for breast cancer. In this guest post, Cancer Research UK’s Dr Nick Peel describes the history of the findings and what they could mean for future research.
Just over two years ago a landmark study took our knowledge of breast cancer to a new level.
An international team of scientists, led by Professor Carlos Caldas and his team at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute, mapped the genetic landscape of breast cancer in unprecedented detail, redefining it as 10 distinct diseases.
But as with many of these vast genetic explorations, the study revealed as much unexplored terrain as it mapped – exposing the complexity …
In this guest post, Dr Andrew Teschendorff of University College London and the CAS-MPG Partner Institute for Computational Biology, Shanghai, examines a new Genome Medicine study.
In an exciting research article published today in Genome Medicine, Rafa Irizzary and colleagues provide evidence for a gradual systems-level deregulation of the epigenome in stages prior to the onset of cancer and which later is seen to progress further in cancer. Thus, these insights could potentially lead to a clinical test with the ability to predict cancer risk in cells that are not yet malignant.
The authors focused on a specific epigenetic mark, known as DNA methylation, a molecular modification of DNA which can regulate the activity of nearby …
New research published today in Genome Biology shows that RNA sequencing could lead the way towards more personalized treatments for prostate cancer. In this guest post, Dr Iain Frame, Director of Research at Prostate Cancer UK discusses what this could mean for patients and health services, and what more is needed to provide effective support and treatment for men with prostate cancer.
We are used to hearing and talking about prostate cancer as a single disease. Albeit a disease with its tigers and pussycats – the tigers being the aggressive cancers that move out of the prostate gland to other parts of the body, and the pussycats being those cancers that may never cause any harm and won’t go …
Breast cancer – the most common type of cancer affecting women – is often thought of as a single disease. However, mounting evidence suggests that there are multiple subtypes, all of which occur at different rates, have varying levels of aggressiveness, and respond to different types of treatment.
One of the better understood subtypes is HER2-positive breast cancer, defined by high expression of the HER2 protein. Women with HER2-positive breast cancer are often treated with targeted therapies such as trastuzumab, which has dramatically improved survival rates from HER2-positive breast cancer in the past decade.
Progress in treating HER2-positive breast cancer
In a Q&A podcast published in BMC Medicine to launch our Spotlight on breast cancer …
When I was three years old my grandma passed away after a long fight with cancer. I should disclaim quickly: it never affected me greatly, since I was too young to remember anything. I know, though, that that experience was a gruelling one for my mum, who cared for our grandma during the therapy – battle with cancer ain’t pretty in general, and it was even worse then.
It would of course be easy to blame the health system of the communist regime in which we lived at the time but the truth is that the treatment strategy was pretty much the same all over the place: surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy. It doesn’t work? Let’s try harsher treatment. And the understanding …