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How is the ACS Involved in Breast Cancer Research?

Funding research

The American Cancer Society (ACS) is involved in the fight against breast cancer in many areas. Through its extramural research grants program, as of September 2013 the Society was funding 220 research projects being conducted by an elite group of scientists. These projects were chosen through a rigorous peer review and selection process and all of them relate to breast cancer. This funding amounts to $86 million research dollars. (Most of these projects extend over several years.) A few areas of research now being investigated by American Cancer Society grantees are:

  • Establishing an animal model for triple negative breast cancers that are resistant to chemotherapy in order to evaluate new treatments
  • Identifying the unmet needs of African American breast cancer survivors in order to develop programs to support and assist in meeting those needs
  • Evaluating whether known genetic factors for established risk factors, such as age at menarche and height, are associated with breast cancer risk
  • Identifying factors associated with joint pain resulting from aromatase inhibitor treatment and looking for effective ways to manage it
  • Exploring new breast cancer treatments that activate immune system cells and evaluating whether the immune system plays a role in the inflammatory responses that promote cancer progression
  • Evaluating factors that influence the way radiologists interpret (read) mammograms, developing a test to identify radiologists that could benefit from additional training, and creating a continuing education program for radiologists that reduces the need to repeat mammograms while maintaining or improving cancer detection (co-funded by the National Cancer Institute)

Doing research

The Society also conducts in-house, population-based studies of breast cancer and does surveillance research to monitor long-term trends and statistics. Using information collected from more than 600,000 women in the Cancer Prevention Study II (CPS II), ACS scientists have studied the influence of many factors, including alcohol use, diethylstilbestrol (DES), estrogen replacement therapy, a family history of cancer, smoking, obesity, and spontaneous abortion on the risk of dying from breast cancer.

ACS scientists have studied the influence of mammography on breast cancer prognostic factors, conducted long-term follow-up of major breast cancer screening studies, modeled the cost-effectiveness of chemoprevention therapies, and recommended breast cancer surveillance strategies that can be applied at local and national levels.

In addition, the ACS Behavioral Research Center is conducting a Study of Cancer Survivors (SCS) to examine the factors tied to a good quality of life after diagnosis of 10 different cancers, including breast cancer. Specific areas of interest include healthy lifestyle behaviors (such as diet, physical activity, and smoking), body image issues, sexuality and intimacy, and overall quality of life of cancer survivors and their caregivers.

Advocating for more research dollars

The American Cancer Society and its non-profit, non-partisan advocacy affiliate, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action NetworkSM (ACS CAN), are involved in advocacy efforts at both the federal and state levels. These efforts are to increase access to quality breast cancer screenings, diagnostic services and treatment, and care for all women; increase government funding for breast cancer research; and be a voice for the concerns of breast cancer patients and survivors.

Last Medical Review: 09/16/2013
Last Revised: 09/16/2013