Breast Cancer Research and Clinical Trials

There is extensive collaboration between medical doctors and laboratory scientists within the Breast Cancer Program to develop and evaluate new therapies designed to treat breast cancer and improve the likelihood of cure. Many of these new treatment approaches are only available at City of Hope. As a patient at City of Hope, you may qualify to participate in a clinical trial of one of these new therapies.

We offer access to a wide variety of clinical trials ranging from new chemotherapy and targeted therapies, hormone therapies to surgical approaches focused on developing novel and personalized treatment for breast cancer.

We are also deeply invested in research to better understand breast cancer, the well-being of patients and the needs of patients and their family members.

Some of the research questions we strive to answer include:
  • What are the potential long-term side effects for cancer survivors  and how can we prevent or minimize them?
  • What is the impact of surgery choices in underserved communities ?
  • Why are some cancers resistant to chemotherapy?
  • How can the use of psychotherapeutic interventions play a larger role in helping women cope emotionally both during and after treatment?

Some of our most exciting current research projects include:
  • Evaluating expression patterns of genes and potential protein targets from individual patient’s cancer stem cells
  • Characterizing circulating tumor cells in patients with locally advanced and metastatic disease
  • Decoding mechanisms of resistance to anti-estrogen and other therapeutic agents
  • Identifying and interfering with unfavorable activations of genes and transcriptional and signal transduction pathways by studying microRNAs and a host of epigenetic modulatory components
  • Focusing on novel therapeutic developments to treat metastasis
  • Studying the role of STAT3, a protein highly activated in cancer cells, and developing drugs that block the tumor-regulating protein
  • Examining the role of PARP inhibitors, a class of drugs that block a cancer cell’s ability to repair DNA damage caused by chemotherapy and radiation therapies; these drugs could make those treatments more effective. 
  • Investigating health and risk factors among more than 100,000 female educators in the California public school system
  • Studying the role of aromatase inhibitors
  • Improving counseling and other support services for women at high risk of development cancer who make the difficult decision to undergo prophylactic mastectomies, hysterectomies and oophorectomies
  • Studying survivorship  with a focus on quality-of-life issues, the prevention of secondary cancers, and other survivorship issues
To learn more about our clinical trials program and specifically about trials for breast cancer, click here.
Low-dose Tamoxifen for Radiation-Induced Breast Cancer Risk Reduction Trial
A clinical research study is currently underway to see if low-dose tamoxifen can reduce the risk of breast cancer in childhood, adolescent , and young adulthood cancer survivors. 

Why childhood, adolescent , and young adulthood cancer survivors?
Women who received radiation therapy for childhood, adolescent, and young adulthood cancer that included the chest or axilla before age 40 have increased risk for developing breast cancer. Careful breast cancer screening is recommended for childhood, adolescent , and young adulthood cancer survivors, but there is currently no risk reduction options designed just for them.
Why Tamoxifen?
Tamoxifen is a drug that has been proven to reduce the risk of breast cancer by 50% in other women at high risk for developing breast cancer. More recently, data has shown that a lower dose may be better tolerated and just as effective.

What would I be asked to do?
  • Screening for eligibility:
    Medical history, breast exam, and lab tests.
  • If you are eligible:
  • You will be given pills containing either placebo or 5mg of tamoxifen to take daily for two years.
  • You will come back to the clinic every six months for a breast exam. Blood and urine will be collected annually. Breast imaging will be performed as standard of care for your level of breast cancer risk.
  • Breast tissue sampling will be performed at the beginning at the end of the study. 
Is it risky?
Common side effects reported with standard-dose tamoxifen include hot flashes and vaginal discharge, These have not been reported with low-dose tamoxifen.  Other potential side effects will be discussed at your initial meeting.

Who can get involved?
Participants must be women at least 25 years old with childhood, adolescent , and young adulthood cancer survivors  at least 2 years ago.  They must have received radiation to the chest or axilla prior to the age of 40 and remained recurrence-free for at least 2 years.  Breast implants or hormone use is not allowed.

This study is only being conducted at select cancer centers in North America.  To see if you qualify, please contact the coordinating center at City of Hope:
(800) 250-8430
This study is supported by a grant from the National Cancer Institute (R01 CA140245-01A1).