Research on breast cancer after pregnancy at the University of Colorado Cancer Center is reaching a key milestone thanks to a gift from NCAA women’s basketball charities.
The Kay Yow Cancer Fund and The V Foundation for Cancer Research annually fund cancer research based in the host city of the NCAA Women’s Final Four. This year, the $100,000 grant will fund continuing work at the University of Colorado Cancer Center aimed at preventing young women’s breast cancer.
“We’re at the point where this money will help us finalize the data we need to support a clinical trial for the prevention of postpartum, pregnancy-associated breast cancers,” says grant recipient Virginia Borges, MD, MMSc, a CU Cancer Center investigator and co-director of the center’s Young Women’s Breast Cancer Translational Program.
Marsha Sharp, executive director of the Kay Yow/WBCA Cancer Fund, and Nick Valvano, CEO of the V Foundation for Cancer Research, will present Borges with a ceremonial check at a news conference at the Anschutz Cancer Pavilion on Dec. 1, 100 days ahead of the NCAA Women’s Final Four, to be held in Denver.
“It is so encouraging to fund research whose target is not only the treatment of breast cancer, but the prevention as well,” said Valvano. “We are proud to be associated with this project.”
“The women’s basketball community has been incredibly supportive of the Fund since its inception, especially during the month of February,” said Sharp. “With this in mind, it is very fitting for us to fund research on young women’s breast cancer in the host city of the 2012 Women’s Final Four.”
Founded in 2005 by Borges and co-director Pepper Schedin, PhD, the Young Women’s Breast Cancer Translational Program at the CU Cancer Center specializes in the treatment and prevention of breast cancer in women under age 40, with a special focus on pregnancy-associated breast cancer. The program provides comprehensive breast cancer treatment and survival support to more than 100 women each year. The program also instigates and participates in both basic and clinical research into the causes, treatment and prevention of breast cancer in young women.
Borges and Schedin published a paper in Nature Medicine in July 2011 that showed that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen reduce the severity of postpartum breast cancers in animal models, and now the research team will move the preclinical results toward humans.
Borges and Schedin’s work targets an especially at-risk population.
In fact, recent studies show that women who have children before age 30 increase their risk of pre-menopausal breast cancer by 10 percent and women who wait to have children until after age 35 increase their risk by 30 percent.
Not only is breast cancer more prevalent in young mothers than in women who have not had a child, but cancers diagnosed in the early years postpartum also tend to be more aggressive, with increased risk of spreading to other organs.
Women diagnosed with cancer within two years of giving birth have a 40 percent five-year survival rate, as opposed to a 70 percent five-year survival rate for women diagnosed outside the postpartum window.
The pair’s work shows that NSAIDs reduce the wound-like qualities of breasts undergoing the process of involution, during which milk-producing cells are killed and replaced with fat cells. During involution, healthy tissues can be invaded by fibrous collagen, which promotes tumor growth and travel into the lung. NSAIDs decrease production of the enzyme COX-2, which promotes the growth of this fibrous collagen.
“Dr. Schedin and I are the right arm and the left arm of this research organization, and so this grant from the Kay Yow and Jimmy V Foundations will directly fund research that benefits young women,” Borges says.
Borges and Schedin are faculty in the CU medical school, and Borges provides breast cancer care at University of Colorado Hospital.
About the CU Cancer Center
The University of Colorado Cancer Center is Colorado’s only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center. Headquartered on the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, the center is a consortium of three state universities (Colorado State University, University of Colorado at Boulder and University of Colorado Denver) and six institutions (University of Colorado Hospital, Children’s Hospital Colorado, National Jewish Health , Denver Health, Denver VA Medical Center and Kaiser Permanente Colorado).
Together, our 440+ members work to relieve suffering from cancer by discovering, developing and delivering breakthroughs in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of cancer for the citizens of Colorado, the region and beyond. Learn more at www.coloradocancercenter.org.
About the Kay Yow Cancer Fund
The Kay Yow Cancer Fund®, in partnership with the WBCA and The V Foundation, is a 501 (c)(3) charitable organization committed to being a part of finding an answer in the fight against women’s cancers through raising money for scientific research, assisting the underserved, and unifying people for a common cause. Donations can be made at www.KayYow.com. All donations are tax deductible. For more information, visit www.KayYow.com.
About The V Foundation
The V Foundation for Cancer Research was founded in 1993 by ESPN and the late Jim Valvano, legendary North Carolina State basketball coach and ESPN commentator. Since 1993, The Foundation has raised more than $100 million to fund cancer research grants nationwide. It awards 100 percent of all direct cash donations and net proceeds of events directly to cancer research and related programs. Administrative and fundraising expenses are paid by the Foundation’s endowment. The Foundation awards grants through a competitive awards process strictly supervised by a Scientific Advisory Board. For more information on The V Foundation or to make a donation, please visit www.jimmyv.org.
About the WBCA
Founded in 1981, the WBCA promotes women’s basketball by unifying coaches at all levels to develop a reputable identity for the sport and to foster and promote the development of the game as a sport for women and girls. For additional information about the WBCA, please visit wbca.org.
About the NCAA and Division I Women’s Basketball
The NCAA is a membership-led nonprofit association of colleges and universities committed to supporting academic and athletic opportunities for more than 400,000 student-athletes at more than 1,000 member colleges and universities. Each year, more than 54,000 student-athletes compete in NCAA championships in Divisions I, II and III sports. Visit www.ncaa.org and www.ncaa.com for more details about the Association, its goals, members and corporate partnerships that help support programs for student-athletes.
NCAA women’s basketball is characterized by strong fundamentals, high quality of play, sportsmanship, role model student-athletes and family oriented entertainment.