The Medical Minute: Breast cancer study seeks prevention, volunteers

March 16, 2009

By Andrea Manni

It is estimated that one in seven women in Western countries will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. While treatments continue to improve, prevention is the best hope for decreasing breast cancer mortality -- currently the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in American women. Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute researchers are looking for new ways to prevent cancer. Healthy post-menopausal volunteers are needed for one of their studies looking at a potential breast cancer prevention method.

Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute’s Andrea Manni and Karam El-Bayoumy have received $7.5 million from the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Research Program to study the effect of a low dose of antiestrogen medications and omega-3 fatty acids on reducing high breast density, which can increase the risk of breast cancer.

This study focuses on prevention of breast cancer, which seeks to discover and test new drugs that block specific molecular interactions and biological pathways that contribute to the development of cancer cells. It is hoped that these new drugs will combat different triggers for cancer cell development.

Antiestrogens, such as Tamoxifen, used in breast cancer treatment and prevention, and Raloxifene, used in prevention only, block the female hormone estrogen, which may speed tumor growth. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential nutrients found in fish and flax seed that help reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Volunteers will have a mammogram; complete two questionnaires; be evaluated for height, weight and waist measurements; and provide urine and blood samples.

For more information, call Cynthia DuBrock at (717) 531-4300.

Susan G. Komen for the Cure is a foundation that supports breast cancer research. It has helped train more than 400 breast cancer researchers and funded more than 1,800 research projects in its 26-year history.

Susan G. Komen for the Cure recommends the following breast cancer screening guidelines:

  • Talk to your family to learn about your family health history;
  • Talk to your doctor about your personal risk of breast cancer;
  • Ask your doctor which screening tests are right for you if you are at higher risk;
  • Have a mammogram every year starting at age 40 if you are at average risk;
  • Have a clinical breast exam at least every 3 years starting at age 20 and every year starting at age 40;
  • Know how your breasts look and feel and report changes to your health care provider right away; and
  • Make healthy lifestyle choices that may reduce your risk of breast cancer.

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Andrea Manni is professor of medicine and chief of the Division of Diabetes, Metabolism and Endocrinology at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated March 23, 2009