A team of epidemiologists and biostatisticians from Johns Hopkins University and the National Cancer Institute has found a new prevention method to reduce the chances of developing breast cancer in white women with a medical history of the disease.
In the United States, one out of eight women will develop invasive breast cancer over their lifetime, says the breast cancer organization. Around 246,660 new cases of breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed this year.
Breast cancer death rates are higher than any other rate for cancer, including lung cancer which tends to be the more common.
Many factors such as medicine history and lifestyles can affect the chances of women’s suffering from breast cancer. Hormone replacement therapy and related hormone therapies are often related to the development of breast cancer.
Prevention methods have always been advised to family members of diagnosed patients, which include mammograms and leading a healthy lifestyle. A recent investigation has proven a prevention method that estimates the chances of developing the disease.
Specialists from the Johns Hopkins University and the National Cancer Institute realized that 30 percent of patients with breast cancer could have prevented the disease with the change of risk factors.
The team explains that risk factors such as smoking, obesity, alcohol consumption, and avoiding hormone replacement therapy could change the outcomes of developing breast cancer in women despite having a family history of the disease.
“People think that their genetic risk for developing cancer is set in stone. While people cannot change their genes, people with higher risks can do something to improve their health outcomes like choosing better lifestyle habits and refraining from smoking and alcohol consumption,” said Dr. Nilanjan Chatterjee lead author of the study.
Evaluating risk factors
To have a better understanding of the chances of developing breast cancer and the role played by risk factors, the team developed a system that included patient’s data from across the world.
The team studied data from the Breast and Prostate Cancer Cohort Consortium that includes almost 20,000 facts from women with the disease and without the disease. Other data included records of 6,000 women belonging to the National Health Interview Study.
Risk factors were evaluated and combined with gene variations that tend to produce the disease in patients. Understanding that changeable risk factors could help in the prevention and in the outcomes of developing the disease.
By evaluating data such as age, weight, medical history, menstruation, amounts of pregnancy, and lifestyle, researchers explained that even women with higher risks of developing the disease could prevent them.
This new method will allow both physicians and women to estimate their risks of developing breast cancer and adapt the changeable factors to their lifestyles.
“This has great potential. It’s what we’ve been waiting for, a way to counsel women specifically,” said oncologist Rachel Jankowitz from the Cancer Institute.
Investigators need to adapt the method for commercial use, yet these findings could prevent a great amount of breast cancer cases across the United States.
The findings were published Thursday in the journal JAMA Oncology.
Source: Jama Oncology