Age-Related Lobular Involution as a Target for Breast Cancer Prevention

In the United States, more than 1 million women every year have breast biopsies with benign findings and are thus diagnosed with benign breast disease.

Our laboratory is defining features in breast biopsy tissue that can be used for accurate, individualized prediction of risk of subsequent breast cancer development for women with benign breast disease.

One such feature is age-related lobular involution, a process in which the normal glandular tissue of the breast gradually disappears as women age. Our analysis of a cohort of more than 20,000 women diagnosed with benign breast disease at Mayo Clinic found that women who have undergone age-related lobular involution have substantially reduced risk of breast cancer. More specifically, we found that 40% of postmenopausal women haven't completed the process of age-related lobular involution and that these women have greatly increased risk of breast cancer.

Our team is now studying the process of age-related lobular involution so that we can better identify and treat postmenopausal women who haven't undergone this process. We're also developing experimental models in which we can learn how to induce age-related lobular involution in women for whom this process is stalled or delayed as a physiologically derived method for breast cancer prevention.