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Breast Cancer Awareness Month: The UK's Role in Breast Cancer Research and Treatment

Every October, an international health campaign is held to raise global awareness of breast cancer. Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers in women worldwide. It can occur in both men and women, but it's far more common in women. In 2020, more than 2.3 million women were diagnosed with breast cancer worldwide and 685,000 died. That is why world-class universities are committed to supporting young scientists and students to perform innovative studies and research that would treat breast cancer or prevent it.

What causes breast cancer?

Doctors know that breast cancer occurs when some breast cells begin to grow abnormally, creating a mass of tissue called a tumor. In fact, the exact cause of breast cancer remains unclear, but there are some hormonal, environmental and lifestyle factors that may increase your likelihood of developing breast cancer.

Breast cancer risk factors are numerous and some of them are the following:

  • Being a female: Women are much more likely than men are to develop breast cancer.

  • Age: The risk of developing breast cancer increases with age. The condition is most common in women over age 50 who have been through menopause. About 8 out of 10 cases of breast cancer happen in women over 50.

  • Family history: If you have close relatives who have had breast cancer or ovarian cancer, you may have a higher risk of developing breast cancer.

  • Personal history: Women who have previously had breast cancer are more likely to have it again compared to those who did not have it before.

  • Breast density: Dense breasts make it harder to see tumors during mammograms.

  • Lifestyle factors: overweight, obesity and alcohol play a major role in breast cancer development.

Treatment of breast cancer

Scientists and researchers around the world are looking for different ways for breast cancer treatment and prevention. For now, the main treatment options are surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone-blocking therapy, and biological therapy.

A doctor may see that surgery is necessary depending on the person’s diagnosis and preferences as he may treat cancer with radiation to target the tumor with controlled radiation to kill the remaining cancer cells. Chemotherapy drugs can also be prescribed to kill cancer cells and prevent the risk of recurrence or spread. In addition to hormone-blocking therapy that is used by doctors to prevent hormone-sensitive breast cancers from returning after treatment, and biological therapy that is designated to target specific types of breast cancer.

UK universities role in research

The prestigious universities of the UK are investing in education and aiming at training competent doctors and researchers who would find better ways to reduce the risk of developing breast cancer.

UK universities played a vital role in preventing, diagnosing and treating breast cancer through education, scientific research and collaboration. Several research groups and scientists in the UK are still working together to tackle breast cancer from all angles. They have already contributed to saving thousands of lives through different discoveries as the survival rate has nearly doubled over the last 40 years in the UK. This means that today, 8 in 10 women diagnosed with breast cancer will survive their disease for 10 years or more.

Below are some contributions from UK universities and scientists in breast cancer research:

  • The University of Leeds academics are part of the breast cancer research group that aims at identifying important clinical problems, and finding solutions using multiple approaches, including analyses of ‘big data’ sets, novel chemistry, engineering and technology approaches, basic molecular and cellular biology, and clinical studies.

  • Breast Cancer UK works with leading scientists in the field of breast cancer research such as Dr Michael Antoniou from King’s College London and Dr James Thorne and Dr Laura Matthews from Leeds University,

  • Cancer Research UK (CRUK) spent over £153m in London on cancer research to find better ways to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer and funds centers conducting breast cancer research including King’s College London.

  • Scientists in London developed new breast cancer drugs, improved Cancer Screening and developed kinder surgery.

  • Prof Ingunn Holen and Dr Lewis Quayle from the University of Sheffield performed research studies to understand how breast cancer cells survive chemotherapy treatment.

How to join the fight against cancer?

Cancer treatment is different from one person to another. It depends on many factors including the type and stage of cancer, age, overall health and individual’s preferences.

Several prestigious universities in the UK offer courses in the field of Cancerology (Oncology) such as cancer biology in Kingston University London, cancer immunotherapy in London Metropolitan University, cancer research in Huddersfield University and cancer medicine in the University of Liverpool.

Encourage early screening!

Diagnosing breast cancer early gives women the best chance of survival. Let’s make early breast cancer screening a priority!

With the UK world-renowned universities, you will get the chance to deepen your understanding of breast cancer and take part in research studies that would help save and transform women's lives across the globe.

Our team of expert advisors offers tailored orientation to all students who want to study abroad. SA Global helped hundreds of students in all their procedures. Registrations are still open for medical studies, in world-class universities.

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