Key steps for effective breast cancer prevention

Kara L. Britt, Jack Cuzick, Kelly Anne Phillips

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleOtherpeer-review

281 Citations (Scopus)


Despite decades of laboratory, epidemiological and clinical research, breast cancer incidence continues to rise. Breast cancer remains the leading cancer-related cause of disease burden for women, affecting one in 20 globally and as many as one in eight in high-income countries. Reducing breast cancer incidence will likely require both a population-based approach of reducing exposure to modifiable risk factors and a precision-prevention approach of identifying women at increased risk and targeting them for specific interventions, such as risk-reducing medication. We already have the capacity to estimate an individual woman’s breast cancer risk using validated risk assessment models, and the accuracy of these models is likely to continue to improve over time, particularly with inclusion of newer risk factors, such as polygenic risk and mammographic density. Evidence-based risk-reducing medications are cheap, widely available and recommended by professional health bodies; however, widespread implementation of these has proven challenging. The barriers to uptake of, and adherence to, current medications will need to be considered as we deepen our understanding of breast cancer initiation and begin developing and testing novel preventives.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)417-436
Number of pages20
JournalNature Reviews Cancer
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • breast cancer
  • cancer prevention

Cite this