Lab Canada

$5.7M supports research on breast cancer in young women

Toronto, ON – A pan-Canadian research team investigating breast cancer in young women is being supported with $5.7 million in funding from the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation and Canadian Institutes of Health Research – Institute of Cancer Research.

The program will be led by Dr. Steven Narod, senior scientist and director, Familial Breast Cancer Research Unit, Women’s College Research Institute and Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Breast Cancer, of Women’s College Hospital in Toronto. Entitled “Towards better outcomes for young women with breast cancer: A Pan-Canadian Collaborative,” it includes four sub-projects for a total team of 62 researchers and clinicians at 44 institutions and clinics across Canada.

The research aims to better understand the unique biology of breast cancer in women under 40 and its implications for prevention, risk reduction, and delivering care that addresses their distinct needs.

This national network of breast cancer researchers will establish a Canadian Young Breast Cancer Cohort comprised of 1,200 newly diagnosed young women with all stages of breast cancer from 28 sites across the country. The cohort will provide personal, lifestyle, and treatment information, as well as blood and tumour samples to address a range of research questions. The team will also assemble a retrospective database of 3,000 women who have previously been diagnosed with breast cancer when they were under the age of 40 in order to assess longer term outcomes related to recurrence and survival.

The team was funded through the joint CBCF-CIHR Breast Cancer in Young Women Research Program – an initiative to improve the clinical outcomes and quality of life for young women with breast cancer. The research proposed could lead to significant changes in clinical practice and policy, as well as information to enable women to make more informed decisions about their lives during and after breast cancer.

“Breast cancer in this age group tends to be more advanced at the time of diagnosis, more aggressive and more resistant to treatment. Prognosis is therefore generally worse for women under 40 years than for older women. That’s why this research program is so important.,” says Dr. Narod.