Risk and prevention
The best weapon in the fight against breast cancer is the ability to stop the disease occurring in the first place.
Breast cancer develops due to a combination of genetics, environmental and lifestyle factors. It is estimated that one in four breast cancers could be avoided by changing a range of lifestyle factors - for example, limiting alcohol intake, exercising more and maintaining a healthy bodyweight.
We need to know who is most at risk of developing breast cancer and how we can best prevent the disease.
By 2025, we hope individual breast cancer risk will be more precisely predictable and up to 20% of all breast cancers will be prevented.
Where we are now
We have greater knowledge of lifestyle factors, so we can help women to reduce their risk of developing the disease. There are measures to limit breast cancer risk, such as preventive surgery, which can be offered to people with a high risk of the disease due to their family history. Drugs are also offered to women at increased risk of breast cancer for preventive purposes.
But we don’t yet understand how risk factors, like being overweight, actually link with the molecular mechanisms responsible for breast cancer. We need more accurate methods of determining a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer and we need to learn more about how to help people change their lifestyle. We also need studies to reveal who chemoprevention drugs are most likely to work for.
So far, we have funded risk and prevention projects worth £2 million.
- Aim to quadruple our investment in research, campaigning and education over the next ten years to £8.5 million
- Aim to fund or facilitate a meta-analysis of existing evidence on the role of calorie-restricted weight loss in the prevention of breast cancer relapse after surgery
- Look to fund research that will provide insight into which women at high and moderate risk of the disease will benefit most from chemoprevention drugs
- Look to fund research that furthers our understanding of breast density as a breast cancer risk factor
- Introduce the routine collection of breast density data and the collection of mammographic imaging data into the Breast Cancer Campaign Tissue Bank
- Raise awareness of lifestyle changes to help reduce the risk of breast cancer