November 06, 2017 0 comments

Breast Density Driver to Help Prevent Cancer

Having a high breast density is one of the biggest driving factors for a woman’s increased risk of breast cancer, yet to date there is little known about density or why it plays such an important role in breast cancer.

It’s your ongoing support that allows our researchers to lead the way in discoveries around breast density in the hopes of preventing women from receiving a devastating breast cancer diagnosis.

PhD student Maddison Archer has been working with supervisor and head of the Breast Biology and Cancer Unit at the Basil Hetzel Institute for Translational Health Research (BHI) Associate Professor Wendy Ingman on investigating a protein that plays an all important role in breast density and ultimately breast cancer.

Maddison Archer and Wendy Ingman
Maddison with supervisor Associate Professor Wendy Ingman at the Basil Hetzel Institute.

“When a woman has a mammogram, the image appears black and white. The areas that appear white correlate with increased breast density and this is associated with an increase in a woman’s breast cancer risk,” Maddison said.

“Women with extremely dense breasts can have up to four to six fold increase in breast cancer risk. In fact, breast density is one of the strongest risk factors for breast cancer.

“Through previous studies in our lab we’ve discovered a link between a particular inflammatory immune protein called CCL2 and breast density, which in turn we think may increase a person’s breast cancer risk.”

To better understand this link and what it could mean for preventing breast cancer in the future, Maddison has spent the last few years investigating this all important protein and how it affects breast density and the growth of breast cancer.

“Currently there is not much known about the biology behind breast density, so this is why my project is so important. I’ve been wzorking on studying the pathways of this protein in the body, to better understand and what role it plays in women with high breast density,” she said.

“I’m also studying how breast cancer develops in breasts with high density, so looking at tumours from early on and then checking in again at different stages of growth. This will help us determine if this protein is affecting the different types of tumours and how quickly they progress.

PhD student Maddison Archer“Once we can understand a bit more about the effect this protein has on the breast and also on the cancer tumour and how it progresses, we might be able to find a way of blocking its action and reducing a woman’s breast cancer risk.”

With knowledge proving to be power, this research could lead the way for doctors to better detect a woman’s breast cancer risk and ultimately prevent many more from being diagnosed with this heartbreaking disease in the future.

Please click here to support this life-saving research.

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