Kathie Dalessandri, MD, a breast cancer researcher working on ways to predict breast cancer risk in women, is the 2009 Community Breast Cancer Research honoree. Dr. Dalessandri, an independent physician researcher who has participated in numerous breast cancer research studies, used data from Zero Breast Cancer's first research study to further validate risk assessment models.

Eleven years ago, Zero Breast Cancer partnered with Dr. Margaret Wrensch of UCSF to conduct the first breast cancer research study in Marin County, The Adolescent Risk Factor Study and the Development of Breast Cancer (ARFS). This five year research study (1998- 2003) provided data for several additional studies that took a closer look at such things as breast cancer risk factors, geographic variability, tumor histology and adolescent stress. These studies have yielded valuable clues in understanding the breast cancer puzzle in Marin County and the Bay Area.

One of the primary goals in breast cancer research is finding ways to predict each woman's individual risk of breast cancer. Working with lnterGenetics, the company that developed OncoVue, a genetic-based breast cancer risk test, Dr. Dalessandri used Zero Breast Cancer's ARFS data to develop a new study to evaluate breast cancer risk. The Gail model, developed over 20 years ago, is currently used by scientists and clinicians to predict risk. Factors include age and family/menstrual/reproductive histories. The new tests aim to predict breast cancer risk more accurately using genetics. The results of Dr. Dalessandri's study using the OncoVue model, presented at the end of 2008, show a statistically significant improvement over the Gail model. The importance of this research is that adding a genetic component to the assessment tools may enhance our ability to predict breast cancer risk.

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