Breast Cancer—Thinking Globally

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Science  28 Mar 2014:
Vol. 343, Issue 6178, pp. 1403
DOI: 10.1126/science.1253344

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Few diseases have seen more rapid scientific progress over the past three decades than breast cancer. Beginning in the 1980s, screening mammography led to sweeping improvements in early cancer detection. At the same time, endocrine treatment and systemic chemotherapy proved life-saving. The development of drugs that target hormone receptor and HER2/neu oncogene signaling pathways, coupled with biomarker-based subclassification of the disease, have helped make breast cancer therapy a more precise science. Cloning of the BRCA genes provided insight into inherited predisposition and the opportunity for genetic testing. As a result of these advances, breast cancer death rates in the United States dropped by 34% between 1990 and 2014.