Q: The goal of the Dr Susan Love Research Foundation is “…..to find the cause of breast cancer and prevent it now – before it starts”. What are some of the ongoing research studies that are worth watching?
A: Challenging the status quo is part of Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation’s DNA. We are a small nonprofit that seeks to work with the public to conduct, facilitate, and explain research about breast cancer. Working with diverse collaborators such as NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab and the John Wayne Cancer Center, we extend our ability to focus on innovative research. Our research program is focused on better understanding the human breast to discover why women and some men get cancer. For example, we are working to develop a map of the human breast ducts to facilitate surgery for breast cancer as well as lay the basis for direct delivery of therapy for intraductal disease. Our work on the physiology of the non-lactating ducts suggests that the unit of study is the duct and not the breast, as hormone levels vary duct to duct. We have also begun studies on the microbiome of the breast ductal fluid which suggest the possibility of a protective bacterium.
Recognizing the needs of women in Low- and Middle-Income Countries (LMIC) are different than in western countries, we are developing a self-reading ultrasound to triage palpable breast lumps in collaboration with Clearview Diagnostics and with the support of a National Institutes of Health grant. Most breast cancer in LMICs is premenopausal and presents as a lump and, yet, most lumps in women are benign. This project is being tested in Mexico.
The Foundation is also documenting the collateral damage of breast cancer treatment. This research goes beyond the transient side effects of treatment to the permanent damage that the treatments cause such as “chemobrain” and peripheral neuropathy as well as the psychosocial impact and financial toxicity of breast cancer. We are collecting free-text responses from those living with the disease and analyze what the patients experience, rather than limiting ourselves to standard patient-reported outcome questionnaires. The data was presented at a two-day Think Tank including provider-survivors, people working in the health care delivery system who had also experienced treatment for cancer, and advocates. We are currently working on recommendations from that meeting to improve the delivery of care.
The key to all our research is our unique Army of Women®. The Army is composed of women and men who are willing to participate in research on breast cancer. Researchers submit their projects and, vetting by our Scientific Advisory Board, we eblast them out to the whole army. The Health of Women (HOW) Study™ is a subset of the Army and has several data sets that are used for research.
Our research gives voice to those living with the disease. Central to our goals is translating the science of breast cancer and research to inform and engage the public. We do this through our website, educational videos, and the Research Worth Watching blog.
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