UMass epidemiologist awarded $4.2M for breast cancer research

Research aimed at helping women know if they're at risk

AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. In an effort to fight the disease, a UMass researcher has been awarded millions of dollars to conduct groundbreaking research to determine who is at risk for breast cancer.

UMass epidemiologist Susan Hankinson received the five-year, $4.2 million grant from the National Cancer Institute.

Hankinson will conduct research toward improving risk predictions, so that women and their health care providers can figure out who is at risk, and where they stand on the risk scale.

UMass lab tech Kelley Strickland has a history of breast cancer in her family, and says that this research could save lives.

“I mean it affects people on a personal level, and if we can catch things sooner, or if we know to keep an eye on people earlier, it can really make a big difference. People will survive and maybe avoid getting cancer to begin with,” Strickland said.

The study will evaluate improvements in risk prediction, and collaborate with several other research groups to validate its findings. If a woman finds out that she is at risk, she can take action by undergoing certain lifestyle changes, or taking preventative drugs.

Breast cancer is the most diagnosed malignancy among women in the United States.