Breast cancer strikes one out of eight women in Switzerland. A woman’s risk to get breast cancer is linked to her reproductive history. While early pregnancies have a protective effect, cancer risk increases with the number of menstrual cycles a woman experiences prior to her first pregnancy. Although it is well established that the female sex hormones estrogen, progesterone and prolactin control breast development and have an important role in breast carcinogenesis, the mechanisms by which they exert their effects are poorly understood.
A main research goal at ICPI is to understand how hormones interact with developmental signaling pathways in the breast to control growth and differentiation and how they contribute to breast cancer development. The aim is to translate the insights into novel approaches for breast cancer prevention at the primary human population level (i.e. for pre- and post-menopausal women, contraception and hormone replacement therapies) as well as at the secondary and tertiary level (i.e. personalised approaches to prevent breast cancer progression and relapse ).