The latest strides in breast cancer research

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Every year 230,000 women in America are diagnosed with breast cancer.

Susan G. Komen funnels millions of dollars into research to try and find a cure, and quite a bit of that money goes to projects at the University of Kansas’ Cancer Center.

Researchers at the University of Kansas’ Cancer Center know they are fighting a formidable foe. The enemy is metastasized breast cancer. Their weapons are microscopes, vials and tedious repetition.

“The nature of science is there are a lot of failures with very few successes,” said Carolyn Vivian, the KU Medical Center Lab Manager.

The Kiss 1 Gene is one of the successes. It suppresses breast cancer when it starts to spread to other parts of the body.

Proof lies in a before picture which shows a set of lungs full of metastasized breast cancer, and a picture of the same set of lungs after the Kiss 1 Gene is introduced.

It doesn’t cure the cancer. But it slows the spread, and might keep a survivor alive much longer.

However the gene isn’t quite ready for human trials yet. Researcher Carolyn Vivian looks forward to the day it is.  She lost her mom to stage four breast cancer two years ago.

“Every day I think of her when I’m doing this work,” Vivian said.  “That is what drives me, even though I can’t help her. I hope that our discoveries in this lab will help other in the future.”

Because there are so many types of breast cancer, no one here is expecting to find an all-inclusive cure.  They are just nicking away at it.

Dr. Carol Fabian, Director of the University of Kansas Breast Cancer Prevention and Survivorship Centers, believes one of the brightest bodies of research, deals with preventing breast cancer in hi-risk women.

“To me, that is the most exciting thing we do because it has such huge potential,” she said.

And it might just be as easy as popping a pill containing high doses of flax seed.

A picture of breast tissue that has pre-cancerous cells is shown a year into the flax seed trial and the chances of the woman getting breast cancer have fallen significantly.

“Because these things are healthy for you and there is little in the way of side effects and women can get them at the supermarket and get them. It has the potential to make a huge population impact,” said Dr. Fabian.

High doses of omega 3’s are also under trial and also seem to be preventing breast cancer in some high risk pre-menopausal women.

It’s not a cure, but scientists are documenting the small victories which could make a real difference in the prevention and treatment of breast cancer.

“It does provide us with hope that what we are doing is working and it is something that will lead to further successes and hopefully improve the lives of people with cancer,” she said.

If you would like to know more about the latest breast cancer research Dr. Danny welch from the University of Kansas’ Cancer Research team is holding a free webinar on Wednesday. To sign up, CLICK HERE.

And if you are interested in participating in some trials for breast cancer prevention, call dr. Fabian’s office at (913)588-0647, or CLICK HERE.