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Breast Cancer Prevention by means of vaccination, diet and medication

On Saturday 18 November 2017, world-renowned experts gathered during the annual meeting of the European Cancer Prevention organisation, supported by the Belgian breast cancer campaign Think-Pink. They shared the latest updates on breast cancer prevention by means of vaccination, diet and medication. Curious what those insights are?

Breast cancer remains the first type of cancer in women worldwide. As treatments keep continuously improving, it remains crucial that breast cancer is detected as soon as possible, because early detection can improve a patient’s prognosis. The public breast cancer screening programmes are critically important.

(Primary) Prevention is key

Prevention is better than cure. Knowing that 40 % of all breast cancers can be attributed to modifiable risk factors, primary prevention is of vital importance. Maintaining a healthy weight, exercising more, avoiding alcohol, and eating healthy may reduce the general breast cancer risk by 30 %.

Preventive medication and vaccination

Adjuvant treatments, such as Tamoxifen and aromatase inhibitors, offer preventive protection in the other breast. And even commonly used medication – aspirin, statins, oral antidiabetics and bisphosphonates – reduce breast cancer risk. These may be relatively inexpensive preventive measures for the population.

When we turn to existing medication, the yellow fever vaccine also offers protection against breast cancer. Moreover, scientists are developing vaccination as a feasible preventative measure. Promising results are to be expected from the HER2 vaccine and a DNA vaccine.

A trial that considers vaccination that offers the same natural protection provided by an early pregnancy has just been concluded in Belgium, with the support of ECP and Think-Pink.

Personalised medicine

The future of prevention is identifying individuals with a high breast cancer risk early on. We need to learn from other disciplines and involve GPs in this identification process. Will we find all the answers in our genetic material? We still have a lot to learn in that field. Gene sequencing might be a powerful tool, but for now, we’re still missing pieces of the puzzle.

Thanks to Roche for video support