Predicting breast cancer risk in individuals is presently imprecise and poses a major dilemma for both clinicians and patients. Breast cancer can result from the combined effects of lifestyle, environmental exposures and inherited susceptibility, but the effects of risk factors are not clear cut. Risk factors such as obesity and age at first pregnancy have been demonstrated in both the human population as well as in animal models. Among postmenopausal women, obesity is clearly linked to higher likelihood of developing breast cancer. The relationship is less clearly defined however, prior to menopause and as in adolescent girls, being overweight has actually been linked to a reduced risk. Although a full term pregnancy, early in life is associated with a short-term increase in the incidence of breast cancer but reduces lifetime risk by up to one half.
Cancer treatment also has many variables as aggressive therapy may be life-saving for some women but unnecessary for others. Understanding the basis for the diversity of breast cancers is a critical step that will lead to the development of personalized approaches in both the prevention and treatment of breast cancer.
The Rays of Hope Center for Breast Cancer Research was established in 2011. It is supported by a $1.5M grant from the Rays of Hope, which is a Springfield-based charity representing Western Massachusetts. The Center brings together a group of talented scientists with diverse areas of expertise to create a team that is deeply committed to dramatically reducing the impact of breast cancer. Work supported by the Center emphasizes a deeper mechanistic understanding of how obesity, diabetes and environmental exposures interact to alter breast cancer risk and prognosis.
Mission: ROH CBCR mission is to promote meaningful research in breast disease that will positively impact the lives of those with diseases of the breast and breast cancer
Vision: ROH CBCR vision is to integrate scientific and clinical talent, through a strengthened infrastructure, to become a model for advocacy driven research
Success measured by academic achievements (publications and presentations), funding stream, and most importantly improvement in the health of our community.