What are the most promising developments in the prevention and treatment of breast cancer? Jessica Morton, MPH, CHES Director of Mission, Susan G. Komen Central and South Jersey Breast cancer prevention starts with healthy habits. In addition to lifestyle changes, research is identifying new medications that can reduce the risk of breast cancer among those at high risk. Susan G. Komenfunded researchers are working to understand how lifestyle changes such as exercise and weight management can help prevent breast cancer, and are also testing dietary components that may prevent breast cancer including vitamin D, fish oil, and flaxseed. Researchers are also working to determine whether a pregnancy hormone called hCG can make breast cells less susceptible to becoming cancerous, particularly in women at high risk. We know that breast cancer varies greatly from person to person, and therefore, breast cancer therapy is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Personalized medicine refers to the tailoring of medical treatment to the individual characteristics of each patient. Personalized medicine is an important part of efforts to optimize outcomes for cancer patients. Biological and genomic studies show that breast cancer is not a single disease, but rather a complex set of different cancers with distinct causes. Finding individual differences in tumors is key to treating each patient with the right medicine at the right time. Dr. Aleix Prat is a pioneer in the field of personalized medicine. Dr. Prat’s Komen-funded project focuses on HER2-positive breast cancer, which is a very aggressive type of cancer that accounts for 15-20 percent of all diagnosed cases. Dr. Prat’s research has shown that HER2-positive breast cancer can be classified as four different subtypes of breast cancer. This sub-classification can help predict response to chemotherapy and anti-HER2 treatment. While this type of tumor profiling requires additional investigation before it becomes a clinical standard, the implications of this work are promising. It means that physicians and oncologists will have access to essential information for determining the benefits of treatment, as well as a better understanding of the risks of breast cancer relapse. Oncologists will be able to better advise their patients about which therapy may be the most beneficial for their individual breast cancer. Komen-funded researchers have been working for nearly 20 years on the development, improvement, and clinical testing of vaccines that will both treat and prevent breast cancer. The latest Komen-funded research coming out of Washington University in St. Louis indicates the development of a vaccine on the horizon, which would first and foremost help women who have already had breast cancer by preventing tumors from recurring. Most breast cancer deaths are a result of metastasis. Metastatic breast cancer is an advanced stage of breast cancer where tumor cells have spread to other parts of the body. Treatment for metastatic breast cancer is not effective for everyone, in part, because we do not know what causes cancer cells to spread. Komen researchers are working to identify the genes and processes that cause breast cancer cells to metastasize, developing and testing new therapies to both prevent and treat metastatic breast cancer, and discovering new methods for predicting or detecting metastasis using urine or blood tests or body scans. Since its founding in 1982, Susan G. Komen has funded over $847 million in research grants, and currently supports nearly 500 active research grants totaling more than $300 million.