The NCI is also conducting the Capital Area SERM Study to evaluate the safety of raloxifene in premenopausal women between the ages of 23 and 47 who are at increased risk for breast cancer. Thirty-seven women enrolled in this study. A complete report of the study’s findings will be published in 2005.
Other Breast Cancer Prevention Studies
Drugs called aromatase inhibitors, which have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat hormone-sensitive breast cancer, are being studied in clinical trials for breast cancer prevention. These drugs interfere with the adrenal enzyme aromatase, which is responsible for estrogen production in postmenopausal women (2). The NCI is also studying prevention options for women at high risk of breast cancer that is not sensitive to hormones and can be more difficult to treat than hormone-sensitive breast cancer.
Scientists are also studying the basic biology of breast cancer to learn more about both non-hormone-sensitive and hormone-sensitive tumors. This research may lead to better ways of preventing all types of breast cancer.
NCI Priorities for Breast Cancer Prevention Research
Recognizing the impact of breast cancer on our society, in 1997 the NCI convened a Breast Cancer Progress Review Group (PRG) of experts and advocates to analyze the NCI’s breast cancer research activities and develop recommendations for the future. Based on its assessment of the status of breast cancer research, the review group recommended research priorities to accelerate progress in breast cancer prevention and treatment. In August 1998, the group published its report, Charting the Course: Priorities for Breast Cancer Research.
In October 2004, an internal NCI Breast Cancer Working Group assessed the advances made since the release of the PRG report. The Working Group released The NCI Breast Cancer Progress Report, which documents trends in NCI’s breast cancer research portfolio and the progress that has been made in meeting the priorities identified by the PRG. The report will help to guide the Institute as it moves forward in breast cancer research.
Estimating Breast Cancer Risk
Most breast cancer prevention trials involve women at increased risk of developing this disease. For example, it is clear that breast cancer occurs more often in women over age 60. Other factors associated with increased risk include a personal or family history of breast cancer and changes in certain genes such as BRCA1 and BRCA2. Scientists at the NCI and the NSABP have developed a computer program (on CD-ROM) called the Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool. This tool can help wom