The Battle Against Breast Cancer

Laura Esserman, MD, MBA

Laura Esserman, MD, MBA, directs the Carol Franc Buck Breast Care Center at the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Taking Stock of UCSF Advances

October marks Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an opportune time to take stock of some of the recent progress being made at UCSF, home to one of the preeminent cancer centers in the nation.
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Triple-Negative Breast Cancer May Succumb to New Treatments

Triple-negative breast cancer is the most deadly form of the disease. This form of breast cancer has a disproportionate impact on women who are younger, African American or Hispanic, but new discoveries, including a new treatment approach targeting inflammation in cancer, may help women survive the disease. Read more

Tracking Breast Cancer Over Decades to Save Lives

UCSF will launch a new way to study and treat breast cancer in October that will screen women for the disease and provide them with individual assessments of their risk of developing the cancer. Read more

Analysis Finds One-Dose Radiation Effective in Treatment of Breast Cancer

A new analysis finds that one dose of radiation during surgery for early breast cancer is as effective as six weeks of standard treatment – which could save as much as $1.5 billion in the United States over five years. Read more

$6.5 Million Study Targets High Breast Cancer Deaths in Black Women

UCSF scientists are studying why African American women have lower breast cancer survival rates than white women. Read more

Researcher Calls for Mammograms to be Tailored to Patient

Mammograms are not one-size-fits-all, says noted UCSF breast cancer researcher Karla Kerlikowske, who says they should be customized based on a woman’s age, breast density, family health history and other factors. Read more

Reaching Out to Minorities for Breast Cancer Clinical Trials

UCSF is teaming with Shanti Project Inc., a community-based organization in San Francisco, to reach out to minority women to ensure they are aware of and have access to breast cancer clinical trials. Read more



Video: The Evolving Science of Breast Cancer Screening

UCSF professor George Sawaya, a member of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force which updated its recommendations for breast cancer screening, explains the rationale and the role of science in advancing change in clinical practice, in this video. Read more

Breast Cancer Facts
Over the course of a lifetime, one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer.

Risk factors you cannot change include:

  • Age and gender: Your risk of developing breast cancer increases as you get older. Most advanced breast cancer cases are found in women over age 50. Women are 100 times more likely to get breast cancer than men.
  • Family history of breast cancer: You may also have a higher risk for breast cancer if you have a close relative who has had breast, uterine, ovarian or colon cancer. About 20 percent to 30 percent of women with breast cancer have a family history of the disease.
  • Genes: Some people have genes that make them more likely to develop breast cancer. The most common gene defects are found in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. These genes normally produce proteins that protect you from cancer. If a parent passes you a defective gene, you have an increased risk for breast cancer. Women with one of these defects have up to an 80% chance of getting breast cancer sometime during their life.
  • Menstrual cycle: Women who got their periods early (before age 12) or went through menopause late (after age 55) have an increased risk for breast cancer.
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