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Early Reproductive Events and Breast Cancer: Workshop Statement

The National Cancer Institute convened the Early Reproductive Events and Breast Cancer Workshop on February 24-26, 2003. This scientific Workshop was held to present and review the information available on the risk of breast cancer associated with pregnancy. The Workshop brought together a cross-section of experts to discuss the scientific data available regarding the reproductive events in a woman's life that may impact her subsequent risk of breast cancer. These top experts - epidemiologists, clinicians, laboratory scientists, as well as breast cancer advocates - came together to review the latest scientific data, to define what is known, to identify gaps in our knowledge, and to discuss what areas warrant further study.

Participants reviewed the epidemiological, biological, molecular and hormonal relationships of pregnancy that alter breast cancer risk. Specifically, this meeting addressed the following:

  • The association of observed biologic events affecting the risk of breast cancer in human population studies
  • The study of biologic events that influence the risk of breast cancer in animal models
  • The impact of new technologies to understand the development of breast cancer following events associated with pregnancy

"I convened the Workshop to provide a comprehensive and integrated scientific assessment of the important association between reproductive events and the devastating problem of breast cancer," said the Director of the National Cancer Institute, Andrew von Eschenbach, M.D. "The outcomes of the Workshop will help NCI to provide the public with accurate information about pregnancy-associated factors that may influence breast cancer risk, and to define a research agenda for the Institute through which to better define the risk factors that can lead to more effective strategies of prevention."

Following scientific presentations, participants met in small groups to identify gaps in scientific evidence and to identify opportunities for interdisciplinary approaches to fill those gaps. The participants' discussions were summarized in a draft report that was presented and reviewed the last day of the Workshop. The final Workshop report, revised based on participants' comments during the concluding session, will be presented to NCI's Board of Scientific Advisors and Board of Scientific Counselors on March 3. Following review and consideration by the Boards, comments on the "Workshop Report" will be solicited from the scientific, medical, and lay communities through the NCI Web site.

After review by the Boards and public commentary, the report will be used to guide the Institute's future research agenda and the development of public communication materials about the impact of factors associated with pregnancy that affect a woman's risk of subsequently developing breast cancer.

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