Monthly breast cancer research update – April 2017May 1st, 2017
Breast cancer research discoveries announced in April covered a wide range of topics – all of which give hope for a happier, healthier future. The latest update includes research into the rare type of breast cancer called inflammatory breast cancer, better understanding of treatment resistance, a new NBCF campaign on metastatic breast cancer and a way to detect it.
Rare breast cancer: Inflammatory breast cancer is a very rare type of breast cancer and is considered the fastest-growing form of breast cancer which quickly develops resistance to treatments. A recent study has found that BPAs (chemicals found in plastics and other everyday things) could contribute to cancer survival. It’s important to note that there is no concrete evidence that exposure to low levels of BPA causes breast cancer.
NBCF note: In 2017 NBCF funded Professor Matthias Ernst, who is testing drugs that are approved for use in other diseases (leukaemia and rheumatoid arthritis) to see if they can overcome inflammatory breast cancer’s resistance to treatment.
Treatment resistance: For reasons that are not yet known to researchers, 50% of breast cancer patients treated with tamoxifen eventually become resistant to the treatment. Recently researchers have identified a gene that is ‘revving the engine of cancer’ against the world’s most common breast cancer drug. “Now that we have identified the target, this will allow us and others to design new drugs to overcome tamoxifen resistance,” says Dr Marco Fiorillo from the Translational Medicine in the Biomedical Research Centre at the University of Salford.
Metastatic: NBCF has launched an awareness campaign on metastatic breast cancer, the major hurdle to stopping deaths from breast cancer. The campaign includes a poll on what Australians know about this stage of the disease, which found that although Australians know that metastatic breast cancer causes death from cancerous cells spreading throughout the body, thy are still uninformed about whether there are effective treatments and when the cancer could return.
Obesity: A new study may explain why there’s a link between obesity and cancer risk: scientists discovered that aggressive breast cancer cells grow faster in an obese environment. The link between obesity and cancer has been noted for years and this finding shows how cancer’s environment plays a role in its growth and spread.
Blood test: NBCF-funded Associate Professor Michelle Hill is searching for a way to detect when breast cancer spreads and has discovered a ‘biomarkers’ which could pave the way for a larger study, ultimately heading towards a reliable test that doctors can use to detect metastatic breast cancer much earlier.