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Breast Estrogen and Methylation (BEAM) study

Seema Khan at Northwestern University
Study abstract

Current methods to determine breast cancer risk are insufficiently sensitive to select women most likely to benefit from preventive strategies. Our preliminary data support the hypothesis that quantitative molecular markers (DNA methylation and breast tissue hormone concentrations) may provide an individualized risk profile. We will obtain random fine needle aspiration samples from 300 women of varying menopausal and menstrual status and evaluate cumulative gene methylation and breast estradiol concentrations. Ongoing commercial partnership will ensure development of a simple, inexpensive and noninvasive test. This work sets the stage for validation studies to test whether these early changes predict future breast cancer.

Study review

This study at Northwestern University, in Chicago, and Johns Hopkins University, in Baltimore, is looking for a better way to predict a woman’s breast cancer risk, and is investigating the potential for using DNA methylation and estrogen concentrations found in women’s breast tissue as risk biomarkers. The researchers wanted to enroll at least 400 volunteers. The Call to Action for this study was sent to Army of Women members on July 22, 2009. When the researchers closed enrollment on November 21, 2011, the Army of Women had provided them with 849 women who were interested in enrolling in the study.

Resulting Publications:

Study proposal