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Discovering the causes of cancer and the means of prevention

Breast Radiology Evaluation and Study of Tissues (BREAST) Stamp Project

Investigators in DCEG are currently collaborating with colleagues in NCI’s Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium at the University of Vermont, the University of California at San Francisco, and in NCI’s Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences, on the Breast Radiology Evaluation and Study of Tissues (or “BREAST”) Stamp Project. A total of 466 women ages 40-65 years who were clinically referred to radiologically-guided breast biopsy were enrolled from fall 2007 through summer 2010. The BREAST Stamp Project aims to characterize the radiologic, histologic, molecular, and biochemical features of dense breast tissue and to understand how the microenvironment of dense breasts promotes neoplastic transformation of the breast epithelium. Risk factor data and biological specimens (blood, buccal cells, tissue fluids, and tissue) required to discover mechanisms and biomarkers that link high mammographic density (as measured quantitatively using computerized methods) to breast cancer risk were collected from study participants.

Prior studies of sex-steroid hormones and mammographic density have mainly evaluated older women, providing limited opportunities to assess hormone levels across a broader range of mammographic density. To date, studies have evaluated the effects of only a few estrogens and estrogen metabolites on mammographic density, in large part due to limitations in laboratory assay methods. The BREAST Stamp Project, which has utilized novel, precise, volumetric mammographic density measurements and includes both pre- and postmenopausal women, has the potential to clarify estrogen-mammographic density relationships. Furthermore, the reduction in measurement error with improved density assessment using digital mammography may result in an increased ability to detect even small associations with circulating estrogens and their metabolites. DCEG investigators are examining this relationship using a high-performance LC/MS2 method to measure estrogens. The strengths of the BREAST Stamp Project, combined with the precision of the LC/MS2 techniques, present an exciting opportunity to advance our understanding of the role of estrogens in mammographic density and breast cancer.

For more information, contact Gretchen Gierach.

Metabolic Epidemiology Branch - Research Areas