Why some women develop breast cancer earlier than others

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Washington, July 15 (ANI): Researchers at New Jersey's only NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center have taken a step towards unlocking the mysteries of why some women develop breast cancer at an earlier age than others.

The researchers have expanded a study to identify genetic markers in women with the disease, and their trial will now include more healthy volunteers as well.

According to state health statistics, roughly 13 percent of women diagnosed with breast cancer in New Jersey are younger than age 45, while nearly half of the women diagnosed with the disease and seen at CINJ are not yet 50.

And now, the investigators are hoping to shed light on these figures through an ongoing clinical trial whose goal is to identify genetic markers for the disease.

By including larger numbers of healthy women in the study, the researchers could pinpoint genetic differences between women who develop breast cancer and those who don't.

Researchers led CINJ medical oncologist Dr. Kim M. Hirshfield recently discovered that some genes might be associated with increased risk of developing breast cancer, while others may actually protect against the development of the disease.

These same gene variations may also play a role in breast cancer outcomes.

"If we are able to identify these slight variations, we can learn more about how breast cancer develops and its outcomes. This information could one day lead to more tailored treatment for those with the disease and perhaps even better prevention methods and screening recommendations," said Hirshfield.

She noted that the majority of women diagnosed with breast cancer have no known risk factors, and that only five to ten percent of breast cancers are actually caused by changes or mutations in known breast cancer genes.

Study participants will have blood drawn for laboratory analysis. The sample will be used to obtain blood cells as well as DNA. Facts about one's breast health and overall medical history will be documented.

Both the blood sample and the clinical information will be analyzed and saved for possible future use.

Investigators are looking for more than 3,000 participants to complete the study.

Women and men aged 18 or older with no history of breast cancer, with a diagnosis of breast cancer, or a breast abnormality indicating increased risk for development of breast cancer are eligible to take part in the trial, although other criteria must be met. (ANI)

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