Department of Cancer Prevention and Control
Roswell Park Cancer Institute
Buffalo, New York
Seeking answers to why some women develop aggressive breast cancers called triple negative.
Studies are planned to understand the relationship between breastfeeding and breast cancer risk.
These studies will provide new information on developmental processes during and after pregnancy that may affect the risk of triple negative breast cancer in some women.
Many factors in breast cancer development determine whether a tumor requires estrogen to grow (what is called estrogen receptor(ER)-positive breast cancer) or can survive without estrogen, ER-negative breast cancer. Those that can grow without estrogen tend to be more aggressive and do not respond to targeted therapies used in ER-postive breast cancer, such as tamoxifen or aromotase inhibitors.
Drs. Hong and Ambrosone are studying a gene called FOXA1 that is important in preventing development of ER-negative tumors. They recently showed that FOXA1 levels were lower in ER-negative breast cancers in women who did breastfeed after childbirth.
To determine if this pattern of FOXA-1 expression reflects reproductive events prior to development of cancer, the research team will conduct studies to compare FOXA-1 levels in breast cancer patients and in women without cancer. The team is interested in understanding the affect of not breastfeeding on molecular changes in normal breast tissue that could increase the risk of ER-negative breast cancers.
Results will increase understanding of the origins of ER-negative breast cancer, and why not breastfeeding may increase risk.
Dr. Chi-Chen Hong is an Associate Member in the Department of Cancer Prevention and Control within the Division of Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences at Roswell Park. Dr. Hong's research is focused on breast cancer etiology, survivorship, and prognosis. Specifically, her interests are on the influence of lifestyle, comorbidity, genetics, and immune factors. She has an ongoing prospective cohort study of early stage breast cancer patients to examine issues in breast cancer survivorship, and with colleagues at the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey and Rutgers University is principal investigator of a study examining the role of obesity and related comorbidities, including asthma and type 2 diabetes, and their management on quality-of-life and breast cancer survival outcomes among African American women, and to elucidate key pathways mediating these associations.