Risk factors for postpartum breast cancer

An ACED Pilot Research Project

Risk factors for postpartum breast cancer: developing a model for early detection

Lead 1: Prof. Gareth Evans, University of Manchester

Lead 2: Dr Heidi Nelson, Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU)

Lead 3: Prof. Pepper Schedin, Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU)



Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU): Dr Zhenzhen Zhang, Dr Sonali Jindal

Queen Mary University of London (QMUL): Dr Adam Brentnall


Project Summary

Since risk for breast cancer increases with age, early detection efforts have focused on women 50 years of age and older. This approach is not effective at detecting a particularly deadly form of breast cancer that impacts younger women after childbirth. Women diagnosed with this form of breast cancer, known as postpartum breast cancer, are 2 to 5 times as likely to die from their disease. Globally, it is predicted that ~ 350,000 young women every year are diagnosed with PPBC. To date, there are no established criteria for assessing a woman’s risk for postpartum breast cancer, so there is no way to identify women who may benefit from screening starting at an earlier age. The goal of this study is to identify risk factors for PPBC, use these risk factors to build a risk assessment model, and test this model in a clinical cohort of 15,000 young women, healthy at time of study enrollment, of which 610 developed breast cancer. Such an assessment model could lead to the identification of high-risk women who may benefit from increased surveillance during the childbearing years, with the goal of early detection of these lethal breast cancers.


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