Diet & Nutrition

Breast cancer breakthrough could prevent some cases

New research could help prevent the formation of breast cancer in women who carry the BRCA1 gene.

Australian researchers claim they’ve found a potential preventative for breast cancer in women carrying the BRCA1 gene – an existing medication.

The drug is currently used to treat osteoporosis and will soon be tested in human clinical trials.

If proven right, it could allow women with a high risk of the disease an option to delay or prevent it without having a mastectomy.

A sobering statistic is that women with the BRCA1 gene have a 65 per cent chance of developing the disease – and there aren’t many preventative measures out there.

Using breast tissue donated by women with the gene, researchers at Melbourne’s Walter and Eliza Institute have been able to identify pre-cancer cells.

With existing medication called Denosumab, this could help doctors inactivate them before they turn into cancer.

Professor Geoff Lindeman, medical oncologist at The Royal Melbourne Hopsital, said the discovery was an important one.

“We are very excited by these findings because it means we've found a strategy that might be useful to prevent breast cancer for high risk women, particularly BRCA1 mutation carriers.”

However, any potential roll-out won’t happen for years.

“They've certainly discovered a mechanism that could be potentially switched off or reduced by the use of an existing drug, but that drug would still need to be tested in those women over a very long period of time to make sure that it behaves as expected in clinical samples versus a laboratory test,” said Cancer Council Australia CEO, Professor Sanchia Aranda.

The use of Denosumab is currently under clinical trial.

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