Innovative Approaches to Breast Cancer Prevention and Screening

October 27, 2016
1:00 pm US Eastern Time

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Invasive breast cancer affects 1 in 8 US women, with more than 40,000 deaths annually from this disease. Advances in screening and treatments have reduced mortality rates over the last few years, especially in women under the age of 50, however, incidence rates remain high and disparities exist among ethnic groups.


This call discussed innovative approaches to breast cancer prevention, including recent work in this field to 1) identify cellular and molecular events, tissue changes, and other factors that increase breast cancer susceptibility, 2) identify chemicals that can affect these biological processes, and 3) develop in vitro and in vivo rapid chemical screening methods to evaluate whether a chemical can affect these processes. The goal of this research is to ensure chemical safety screening includes assessment of biological activity relevant to breast cancer.

Presenters also discussed initiatives at the population level. There is a move to think about prevention over the long-term using systemic coordinated approaches to reduce both the incidence and impacts of cancer, including targeting tobacco use, diet and exercise, access and use of cancer screenings, and the social determinants of health. The San Francisco Cancer Initiative is a partnership between the University of California, San Francisco and the city of San Francisco’s health, government and community leaders. This project focuses on five types of cancer including breast cancer. 

On this call Ruthann Rudel and Dr. Robert Hiatt discuss innovative approaches to breast cancer prevention and screening.

Featured Speakers

Ruthann RudelRuthann Rudel, MS, is the director of research at Silent Spring Institute, where she leads major exposure and toxicology research programs focusing on hormonally active chemicals and biological mechanisms by which chemicals may influence breast cancer. Her innovations in “breast cancer toxicology” include peer-reviewed articles that identify chemicals that cause breast tumors or alter breast development in animal models, and a 2014 article that identifies high priority potential breast carcinogens based on rodent studies and describes methods to measure them in women. Rudel leads a program to integrate breast cancer etiology into computational toxicology by developing breast cancer-relevant high throughput chemical screening tests. She also directs the Institute’s Household Exposure Study, which has been described as the “most comprehensive analysis to date” of exposures in homes and is widely cited. Ruthann is currently serving on a National Academy of Sciences panel on low dose effects of endocrine disruptors. She has served on the US National Toxicology Program Board of Scientific Counselors and is an adjunct Research Associate in the Brown University School of Medicine. 

Bob HiattRobert A. Hiatt, MD, PhD, is professor and chair of the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at UCSF and the Associate Director for Population Science of the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center. His research interests include cancer epidemiology, especially breast cancer, cancer prevention and screening, health services and outcomes research, the social determinants of cancer, and environmental exposures in early development related to cancer. He is also an Adjunct Professor, Division of Epidemiology, University of California Berkeley and Adjunct Investigator at the Division of Research, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program in Oakland. He was the first Deputy Director of the Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences at the National Cancer Institute and a past president of the American College of Epidemiology and the American Society for Preventive Oncology. Dr. Hiatt was responsible for the development, approval and management of a new UCSF doctoral program in Epidemiology & Translational Science. He is a member of the National Research Council’s Board of Environmental Studies and Toxicology. He received his medical degree from the University of Michigan and his doctorate in epidemiology from the University of California, Berkeley.

This call was moderated by Steve Heilig, MPH, CHE’s Public Health and Education Director, with opening comments from Ted Schettler, MD, MPH, CHE’s Science Director. This call lasted for 1 hour and was recorded for our call archive.