October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

According to the National Cancer Institute, more than 252,000 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer and some 40,000 will die of the disease in 2017.

Breast cancer is the most common type of non-skin cancer in women in the United States, accounting for 15 percent of all new cases. And it is second to lung cancer as a cause of cancer death in American women.

There are a number of different types of breast cancer. The most common form of breast cancer is ductal carcinoma, which begins in the cells of the ducts. Cancer that begins in the lobes or lobules is called lobular carcinoma and is more often found in both breasts than are other types of breast cancer. Inflammatory breast cancer is a rare type of breast cancer in which the breast is warm, red, and swollen.

Being female and older in age are the main risk factors for breast cancer. Other risk factors include estrogen (made in the body), dense breast tissue, age at menstruation and first birth, taking hormones for symptoms of menopause, smoking, obesity, and not getting enough exercise.

Hereditary breast cancer makes up from 5 percent to 10 percent of all breast cancer diagnoses. Women who have certain gene mutations, such as mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes, have an increased risk of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer.

Men can also develop breast cancer, making up slightly less than one percent of those diagnosed each year. Radiation exposure, high levels of estrogen, and a family history of breast cancer can increase a man’s risk of the disease.

What is the AACR Doing in this Area?

Breast Cancer-Focused Conferences

The AACR sponsors two large-scale scientific conferences in the area of breast cancer research. The AACR Special Conference on Advances in Breast Cancer Research addresses basic and translational breast cancer research, topics that are not typically covered in other breast cancer conferences with a more clinical agenda. Additionally, the annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium is presented by the AACR, the Cancer Therapy & Research Center at UT Health Science Center San Antonio, and the Baylor College of Medicine.

Grants and Awards

The AACR offers several grants and awards in the area of breast cancer research.

Since 2006, the AACR has partnered with the BCRF to offer a series of research grants. In 2017 the Breast Cancer Research Foundation-AACR Career Development Awards for Translational Breast Cancer Research went to: Tal Danino, PhD, of Columbia University, for his study, "Enhancing Breast Cancer Immunotherapies with Engineered Probiotics;" and Bryan R. Smith, PhD of Stanford University for his project, "Treatment Enhancement via Specific Manipulation of Tumor Immunosuppression." Additionally, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation-AACR NextGen Grant for Transformative Cancer Research, in honor of Dr. Nancy E. Davidson, was awarded to Kivanç Birsoy, PhD, of The Rockefeller University, for his study, "Dissecting the Role of Aspartate Biosynthesis in Hypoxic Tumor Growth."

The AACR-Janssen Fellowship in Cancer Interception Research was awarded to a breast-cancer focused project in 2017. Jason J. Northey, PhD, of the University of California, San Francisco, recieved the fellowship for his study, "Mitigating the Biophysical Implications for Breast Cancer Risk."

Similarly, the AACR Basic Cancer Research Fellowship went to a breast cancer study. Pingping Mao, PhD, of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute won the award for her project, "Characterization of Endocrine Resistance Mechanisms in ER+ Breast Cancer."

The AACR Distinguished Lectureship in Breast Cancer Research recognizes an outstanding scientist whose work has inspired or has the potential to inspire new perspectives on breast cancer. The 2016 Award recipient was Max S. Wicha, MD, of the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, who delivered his lecture, "Targeting Breast Cancer Stem Cells: Challenges and Opportunities," at the 2016 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.

The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) is a 501c3 registered nonprofit organization with offices at 615 Chestnut Street, 17th Floor, Philadelphia, PA 19106 | 215.440.9300