Top breast cancer discoveries of 2016

The past 12 months have been an exciting time for breast cancer research around the world. We recently showcased our top 10 pick of cancer discoveries of 2016 on our website, We shortlisted these discoveries for their contributions to treatment breakthroughs, breast cancer prevention and improvements in the quality of life of Australians diagnosed with breast cancer.

Here, we feature our top four picks from the past year. We are optimistic that the discoveries being made will provide hope to all those living with breast cancer and to the 17,586 women and 144 men expected to be diagnosed in 2017.

1. Blood test may help predict when a cancer is returning

New research shows that a blood test might accurately predict the return of cancer in people who have been previously treated for early-stage cancers.

The blood test, also known as ‘liquid biopsy’, looks for cancer DNA in the bloodstream from cancer cells that have resisted treatment.

2. Scalp cooling systems can help reduce hair loss during chemotherapy

New research has shown that a scalp cooling system can reduce severe hair loss by 50 per cent in some women who are going through chemotherapy. Some oncology clinics offer women access to new scalp cooling systems. These involve wearing a silicone cap, which slowly fills with a gel coolant and keeps your head cold during your treatment. This is promising news for many women facing hair loss, a distressing side effect of some forms of chemotherapy.

3. Research shows personalised exercise programs can help with treatment side effects in early breast cancer

An Edith Cowan University study has shown that personalised exercise programs can help reduce side effects of treatment in people with early breast cancer. The research shows that moderate-intensity, supervised exercise can increase energy levels, help reduce nausea and muscle loss, and may help some people to recover faster. The findings were presented on the ABC’s Catalyst program last year.

4. New treatment for hormone receptor positive, HER2-negative metastatic breast cancer

The PALOMA2 clinical trial has found the new breast cancer drug palbociclib (Ibrance) to be an effective new first-line treatment for hormone receptor positive, HER2-negative metastatic breast cancer when used in combination with the hormone therapy drug letrozole. Click here for more information.

For the full list of our top breast cancer discoveries of 2016, visit the latest news section of our website at

Issue 78
Autumn 2017