The American Cancer Society is helping people with breast cancer today in every community and is working tirelessly to find cures to end the disease tomorrow. Thanks to improvements in treatment and early detection, more and more women are surviving breast cancer.

While progress has clearly been made, breast cancer is still the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women in the US, other than skin cancer, and the second leading cause of cancer death in women. The Society’s research program has played a role in many of the advances that save lives from breast cancer today, and is relentlessly pursuing the answers that will save even more lives in the future.

The Society invests more in breast cancer research than any other cancer type. Following are some of the top American Cancer Society scientists who are committed to finding answers that will help women stay well and get well.

  • Mary-Claire King, PhD, at the University of Washington, has ongoing work investigating BRCA1, BRCA2, and other breast cancer genes. This work continues to promote understanding of the underlying biology of the disease, in turn driving advances that can be translated to the clinic. King and others are harnessing knowledge of breast cancer genetics to develop a number of breast cancer screens, tests, and therapeutic procedures. 
  • Ryan Jensen, PhD, and Stephen Kowalczykowski, PhD, at the University of California-Davis, successfully purified the BRCA2 protein – an accomplishment that eluded other investigators for more than 15 years. This triumph will allow scientists to better understand how the BRCA2 protein functions, laying the groundwork for new breast cancer therapies. 
  • American Cancer Society Health Services Researcher Stacey Fedewa, MPH, has conducted research suggesting that African American and Hispanic patients are at significantly greater risk for delays in breast cancer treatment, which may be a contributing factor in persistent racial disparities in breast cancer outcomes.
  • Vanessa Sheppard, PhD, at Georgetown University, developed the Sisters Informing Sisters intervention for African American women who are newly diagnosed with breast cancer in an effort to reduce treatment disparities in this population. 
  • Using data from the Society’s Cancer Prevention Study II (CPS II), American Cancer Society Senior Epidemiologist Lauren Teras, PhD, found that, over a 10-year period, weight loss itself did not appear to influence the risk of postmenopausal breast cancer, but that losing 10 or more pounds and keeping it off for at least 5 years might reduce breast cancer risk among postmenopausal women.
  • Breast Cancer Statistics, 2011, a report from the American Cancer Society Surveillance Research department, found that breast cancer mortality rates continue to decline steadily, and that the drop in mortality since 1990 has been larger among women under 50 (3.2% per year) than among women over 50 (2.0% per year). The report also finds that a slower and later decline in breast cancer death rates among women in poor areas has resulted in a shift in the highest breast cancer death rates from women residing in affluent areas to those in poor areas.