This year, 50,000 women will hear the words “it’s breast cancer” and around 11,500 women will die from it.
Research holds the key to a future where all that changes. A future where women get to watch their children grow up, creating a lifetime of memories with the people they love. A future where, by 2050, every woman who develops breast cancer lives – and lives well.
To make that future possible we’re supporting nearly 450 of the world’s best researchers across the UK and Ireland. Together, we’re working tirelessly to prevent breast cancer, stop deaths from the disease and improve the lives of those affected by breast cancer.
Our researchers have made some incredible progress but there’s still so much to do, because breast cancer is still here. It’s still tearing apart the lives of families and it’s still taking the lives of the women we love on a heart-breaking scale.
To keep making discoveries we need to invest at least £300 million in our research over the next 10 years. By taking part in Breast Cancer Now’s wear it pink day, which takes place during Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, you can make a huge difference.
In 2004 we launched the Breast Cancer Now Generations Study, one of the world’s largest studies into the causes of breast cancer. The study is following more than 113,000 women for over 40 years and is providing an unprecedented level of understanding about the risk factors and causes of breast cancer.
Professor Anthony Swerdlow, Professor of Epidemiology at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, and co-leader of the study, said:
“The Breast Cancer Now Generations Study has contributed to the great increase that has occurred in what we know about the causation of breast cancer.
“We have contributed to the discovery of genetic markers associated with a higher chance of developing the disease, helped understand how lifestyle factors affect breast cancer risk, and uncovered more about hormone-related changes, such as the onset of puberty and menopause, that relate to breast cancer.”
Dr Rob Clarke, who leads our Research Unit at the University of Manchester, is investigating how a type of cell known as a ‘breast cancer stem cell’ encourages the growth of cancer and is involved in the development of secondary tumours. He is looking for ways to target and eradicate breast cancer stem cells in order to prevent cancer spreading and ultimately stop patients dying from the disease.
Dr Clarke said: “To stop breast cancer taking lives, we need effective new treatments. We must continue to fund research into how and why cancer develops and find weaknesses in the cancer cells to target.”
Women with breast cancer who have surgery to remove their breast (mastectomy) are often offered breast reconstruction surgery. However, many women are dissatisfied with their physical appearance after this reconstruction, which can affect their quality of life. A study by Professor Diana Harcourt aims to help patients to discuss their expectations for breast reconstruction with their surgeon; it is hoped that this will lead to greater satisfaction with the outcomes of surgery.
Professor Diana Harcourt, co-director of the Centre for Appearance Research (CAR) at the University of the West of England, Bristol, said:
"I find it interesting that, for a lot of women, after their treatment is complete, people tell them, “It’s so wonderful, you’re fine,” but these women could be struggling with their appearance. The way they look and feel may have changed a lot since their initial diagnosis, and that can serve as a constant reminder of what they’ve been through."