October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

According to the Breast Cancer Campaign one in eight women in the UK will be diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetimes. This equates to 48,000 new cases each year. 12,000 women (and 80 men) die of breast cancer each year in the UK alone. While these are hard facts, there are thousands of dedicated doctors, nurses and researchers out there trying to help.

Macmillan and Breast Cancer Care are two of the many charities providing advice, nurses and specialised centres. Other organisations such as Breakthrough Breast Cancer  and Against Breast Cancer rely on donations to fund research about breast cancer cures and prevention. Wear it Pink this October 26th aims to reach its £25 million target, providing funding for scientists to continue the fight against breast cancer.

Breast cancer is a very heterogeneous disease and consequently personalised medicine is considered the best way forward in effective treatment. One example of this can be found today in Breast Cancer Research.

A multicentre study from 13 National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) hospitals in the USA analysed data from over 3000 women diagnosed with early stage HER2 positive breast cancer and found that amongst these women hormone receptor (estrogen and progesterone) status influenced patterns of recurrence and survival outcome. Women whose HER2 positive cancer was also HR negative had an increased risk of early death, and their cancer was less likely to recur in bone than those whose cancer retained hormone sensitivity.

Dr Ines Vaz-Luis, who led the study explained, “Based on our findings, HR status defines two different subsets of HER2 positive cancers. To combat this, we believe that studies which look at new drugs for treating HER2-positive breast cancer should also integrate into hormone receptor status their design.”

All this research and hard work is starting to pay off: over 80% of women with breast cancer in the UK survive for more than five years. Breast Cancer Awareness month is a chance to champion research, campaigners, people who donate money, and all the volunteers and professionals who are dedicated to improving this statistic. With their help more men and women will beat this disease.


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