Breast Cancer: Estrogen's Role

Health Watch is a Public Service of the University News Bureau and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.



This week on Health Watch, we’re talking about breast cancer, in recognition of national Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Previously, we discussed how important early detection is in treating breast cancer. Researchers are also working to better understand how breast cancer works so they can find new ways to treat it.

Doctors have long known that estrogen plays a major role in breast cancer. Most breast cancer cells contain estrogen receptors, and estrogen drives breast cancer growth. Recently, a scientist at UT Southwestern Medical Center conducted a comprehensive study of estrogen’s effect on breast cancer cells that showed just how immediate and extensive the effect is. Dr. W. Lee Kraus, a UT Southwestern reproductive biologist, says this study showed what estrogen does starting as soon as it enters a cell, and this knowledge can help doctors find new targets for drugs that fight breast cancer.    

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October 2011

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