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Breast Cancer Research

, 16:446

First Online: 28 September 2014DOI: 10.1186-s13058-014-0446-2

Cite this article as: Howell, A., Anderson, A.S., Clarke, R.B. et al. Breast Cancer Res 2014 16: 446. doi:10.1186-s13058-014-0446-2


Breast cancer is an increasing public health problem. Substantial advances have been made in the treatment of breast cancer, but the introduction of methods to predict women at elevated risk and prevent the disease has been less successful. Here, we summarize recent data on newer approaches to risk prediction, available approaches to prevention, how new approaches may be made, and the difficult problem of using what we already know to prevent breast cancer in populations. During 2012, the Breast Cancer Campaign facilitated a series of workshops, each covering a specialty area of breast cancer to identify gaps in our knowledge. The risk-and-prevention panel involved in this exercise was asked to expand and update its report and review recent relevant peer-reviewed literature. The enlarged position paper presented here highlights the key gaps in risk-and-prevention research that were identified, together with recommendations for action. The panel estimated from the relevant literature that potentially 50% of breast cancer could be prevented in the subgroup of women at high and moderate risk of breast cancer by using current chemoprevention tamoxifen, raloxifene, exemestane, and anastrozole and that, in all women, lifestyle measures, including weight control, exercise, and moderating alcohol intake, could reduce breast cancer risk by about 30%. Risk may be estimated by standard models potentially with the addition of, for example, mammographic density and appropriate single-nucleotide polymorphisms. This review expands on four areas: a the prediction of breast cancer risk, b the evidence for the effectiveness of preventive therapy and lifestyle approaches to prevention, c how understanding the biology of the breast may lead to new targets for prevention, and d a summary of published guidelines for preventive approaches and measures required for their implementation. We hope that efforts to fill these and other gaps will lead to considerable advances in our efforts to predict risk and prevent breast cancer over the next 10 years.

AbbreviationsACSAmerican cancer society

AIAromatase inhibitor

AICRAmerican institute for cancer research

AUCArea under the receiver operating curve

BI-RADSBreast imaging reporting and data system

BMIBody mass index

BOADICEAThe breast and ovarian analysis of disease incidence and carrier estimation algorithm

BRCA1-2Breast cancer 1-2

CIConfidence interval

C-statisticArea under the receiver operating curve

CVDCardiovascular disease

EREstrogen receptor

HRTHormone replacement therapy

IBISInternational breast cancer intervention study

IGF-1Insulin-like growth factor-1

JNKc-Jun N-terminal kinases

mTORmammalian target of rapamycin

PAPhysical activity

PRProgesterone receptor

SERMSelective estrogen receptor modulator

SNPSingle-nucleotide polymorphism

STARStudy of tamoxifen and raloxifene

WCRFWorld cancer research fund

WHIWomen’s health initiative

Electronic supplementary materialThe online version of this article doi:10.1186-s13058-014-0446-2 contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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