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Breast Cancer Research: Milestones

Vision and sheer determination have given us hope for breast cancer treatment and prevention.


1980 -- E. Donnall Thomas, MD, pioneered the technique of bone marrow transplantation to treat cancer. He received the Nobel Prize in 1990.

1988 -- Dennis Salmon, MD, discovered that too much of the cancer gene that produces the her-2/neu receptor is a feature of some 30% of the most aggressive breast cancers.

1990 -- Mary-Claire King, MD, localized the BRCA1 gene for inherited susceptibility to breast cancer to a specific site on chromosome 17.

1994 -- Brian Henderson, MD, showed that exercise can reduce risk of breast cancer in premenopausal women.

1994 -- David G.I. Kingston, PhD, reported results of the drug Taxol as an effective second-line therapy for advanced breast cancer. He also reported success with the drug Taxotere in treating breast cancer.

1998 -- Bernard Fisher, MD, reported that tamoxifen reduces the incidence of breast cancer by 45% in high-risk women; this is the first successful chemoprevention of breast cancer.

1998 -- Dennis Salmon, MD, showed that the drug Herceptin-r improves survival of women with advanced breast cancer.

1999 -- V. Craig Jordan, PhD, reported that raloxifene reduces the risk of breast cancer by 76% in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis.

2002 -- Stephen Friend, MD, PhD, developed DNA technology to predict which breast cancer patients will develop metastasis, thus making aggressive chemotherapy a preventive measure.

2002 -- Bernard Fisher, MD, published results of his 20-year study of 1,800 women: Total mastectomy offers no advantage over either lumpectomy or lumpectomy plus radiation therapy.

Umberto Veronesi, MD, researcher with the European Institute of Oncology in Milan, Italy, published the 20-year follow-up results of his study of 701 women who had either lumpectomy plus radiation therapy or radical mastectomy. The overall survival rate in the two groups was virtually identical.

The saga of breast cancer research, of course, has not ended. Many more names will be added to this list as dedicated people struggle to find answers to the complex disease called breast cancer.

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Reviewed on October 06, 2003

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