For every milestone in breast cancer research, there are countless men and women to thank. Through their creativity and dogged determination, women have hope in preventing, living with, even curing breast cancer.
Here are just a few of these courageous researchers, who bucked traditional thinking and showed proof of their theories:
Most of the more than 232,000 cases of breast cancer that will be diagnosed in the United States this year are not due to a faulty gene passed down through families. As with most other cancers, they happen because of genetic mutations that happen as we age.
But about 15% of women with breast cancer have at least one relative who has also had the disease, and 5% to 10% have specific inherited mutations in one of two genes that have been linked to breast cancer, known as BRCA1 and BRCA2.
1902 -- The radical mastectomy was first performed and was the only treatment for breast cancer for more than 80 years. It involved removing a large portion of the chest, including the entire breast, lymph nodes, and chest wall muscles.
1955 -- Charles Huggins, PhD, pioneered breast cancer research showing that sex hormones were involved. He received the Nobel Prize in 1966.
Among those visionary breast cancer researchers: Bernard Fisher, MD, director of the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project, and Umberto Veronesi, MD, researcher with the European Institute of Oncology in Milan, Italy. Both launched long-term studies of these techniques.
1970s -- Brian McMahon, MD, showed that breast cancer was related to length of a woman's lifetime exposure to reproductive hormones.
1970s -- Joseph Bertino, MD, and Robert Schimke, MD, worked out mechanisms of drug resistance.
1970s -- Peter Vogt, MD, identified the first cancer-causing gene (oncogene) in a chicken tumor virus.
1974 -- V. Craig Jordan, PhD, showed that the drug tamoxifen could prevent breast cancer in rats by binding to the estrogen receptor. Four years later, tamoxifen was approved by the FDA for treating estrogen-sensitive breast cancers.
1976 -- J. Michael Bishop, MD, and Harold Varmus, MD, discovered oncogenes in normal DNA, suggesting that a normal gene already present in the cell has the potential of becoming an oncogene. They were awarded a Nobel Prize in 1989.