The ProF-SC Grant: Prospective Family Study Cohort
Advances over the past two decades have led to the emergence of new prospects for personalized medicine and cancer prevention. The discovery of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations has resulted in more appropriate targeting of preventive and screening strategies even within families previously assumed to be similar with respect to breast cancer risk. Mutation testing in other genes may be used in clinical practice in years to come.
Despite these advances in genomic medicine, there remain some fundamental questions critical to clinical care that are unanswered for women with a family history, both those with an identified genetic mutation as well as the majority of women with a family history of breast cancer who do not carry a mutation in any of the currently identified major susceptibility genes.
In 2011, the National Cancer Institute provided new funding for the six sites of Breast Cancer Family Registry (BCFR) to address some of the unanswered questions regarding the prediction of breast cancer risk by following the BCFR families for another five years. To do so, across the BCFR and in collaboration with the Kathleen Cuningham Foundation Consortium for research into Familial Breast cancer (kConFab), we will be following approximately 18,000 unaffected women and 12,000 women already affected with breast cancer. This research aims to assist clinicians and public health scientists in addressing: 1) an individual’s absolute risk of breast cancer given their age, family history, reproductive history and mutation results; 2) assess modifiable factors that may lower one’s risk of breast cancer; and 3) for those women who have a personal history of breast cancer, what they can do to lower their risk of a new cancer. We will be using this information to improve clinical prediction models that are currently being used in the clinics.
For this new study, we will be asking each family member to provide updates to us regarding changes that may have taken place since we last spoke with them. With this information, we will be able to improve our ability to predict breast cancer in women who are currently unaffected, as well as in women who have already been affected with breast cancer. This information will be vital for many women and their families for years to come.