Event Date: Sunday 14 May 2017

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Mother's Day Classic has raised $30.4 million since it began and helps drive over 30 National Breast Cancer Foundation projects across Australia.

Meet the MDC funded researchers in your state.

New South Wales

SandraProfessor Sandra O'Toole, Garvan Institute of Medical Research

How to identify the best treatments for breast cancer patients.

There have been dramatic improvements in successfully treating breast cancer over the past 20 years, but it's still hard to know which treatment is right for an individual patient.

The challenge doctors can face include how to select which patients are likely to benefit from chemotherapy and those who may be safely spared this toxic therapy; or those who don't need surgery or radiotherapy; and how to identify if new treatment will work for rare types of breast cancer.

Professor O'Toole believes the answers lie in understanding the genetic changes that occur in the breast when tumours develop and grow. Her project will include a large-scale analysis of different types of cancers that will provide information to improve decision-making about the right treatment options for patients.


DesProfessor Des Richardson, University of Sydney

Developing new medications for treating advanced cancer

Over time, breast cancers that have become more advanced and spread to other parts of the body often develop resistance to treatments and sadly these patients have a very poor outlook.

Professor Richardson recently developed an innovative way to trick and kill off drug-resistant cancer cells. He now needs to be important testing on the new treatment so it can be fast-tracked for clinical trials and be available to help provide better outcomes for those with advanced breast cancer in the next few years.

 More MDC funded projects in NSW.


KaraDr Kara Britt, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre

Why does pregnancy provide protection?

Giving birth to children, and having them earlier in life, provides some protection from breast cancer. But of course, it's not possible to dictate when women should have children just to decrease their breast cancer risk, so Dr Britt is investigating therapies that could replicate the protection provided by pregnancy and child-rearing.

Her project seeks to understand the changes in the body during this time in a woman's life so that all women are less at risk from developing breast cancer.


kristyDr Kristy Brown, Hudson Institute of Medical Research

What effect does obesity have on breast cancer risk?

Two thirds of the Australian female population are overweight or obese which increases their risk of developing breast cancer after menopause.

Being overweight is a strong risk factor for breast cancer as the female hormone estrogen is produced in fat cells (as well as the ovaries) and is used as fuel for growth by many types of breast cancer.

Dr Brown is investigating how a protein in our gut may be used to block that growth to stop cancers from spreading to other parts of the body. Her results aim to provide hope for treating women who currently have limited options.

More MDC funded projects in VIC.


Prof. Rik Thompson 2

Learning to read advanced breast cancer cells

"Funding from NBCF and MDC allows us to bring together under one umbrella the skill sets and experience of laboratory scientists, breast cancer clinicians, molecular patholgists and medicinal chemists."

Tumour cells that are found in the blood of some breast cancer patients, known as circulating tumour cells or CTCs, are believed to be the seeds by which breast cancers spread and settle elsewhere in the body.

A number of clinical trials are currently studying the presence or absence of CTCs in the blood of breast cancer patients. Professor Rik Thompson and his team will see if they can read specific information or patterns from different types of CTCs.

Professor Thompson hopes testing the effectiveness of new technology used to capture and analyse CTCs in the blood will improve the way we diagnose and treat women with breast cancer. Being able to better predict whether a patient is likely to respond to a given therapy, determine whether a patient is responding to treatment and to understand when a therapy stops working.

More MDC funded projects in QLD.


RobertProfessor Robert Newton, Edith Cowan University

Reducing tumour spread through exercise

When breast cancer spreads, it most often moves into the bones and usually the spine and pelvis. The result is pain and stiffness that leads women to avoid physical activity.

Exercise has been shown to provide wide-ranging health benefits to cancer patients, including reducing both tumour size and bone pain. That means it's important to provide safe and effective exercise to women with advanced breast cancer to the bones to improve their overall health.

Professor Newton is trialing a resistance and aerobic program with advanced breast cancer which he hopes will improve their quality of life. His program will hopefully be rolled across Australia.

More MDC funded projects in WA.

South Australia

Understanding how pregnancy protects against breast cancer

Women who have had a full-term pregnancy before the age of 25 are at a significantly reduced lifetime risk of developing breast cancer. However, while several theories have been proposed, it is not known how pregnancy protect against breast cancer.

Associate Professor Ingman is studying new ways to reduce the risk of developing breast cancer by exploring the protective effects of pregnancy. Her concept is that early pregnancy produce a ‘memory’ in the spinal cord that changes how breast tissue functions, potentially making the tissue more resistant to cancer.

Using mouse models, Associate Professor Ingman will study changes in spinal cord cells that are induced by pregnancy and lactation, and investigate how these changes affect the development of breast cancer.

More MDC funded research projects in SA.

Australian Capital Territory

MDC funded research projects in ACT.

Classic Investment

You can read all about the milestones of breast cancer research funded by Women in Super in the latest edition of our annual newsletter, 2015 Classic Investment.

You can also read past issues of Classic Investment here:

NBCF Fast Facts

Download a copy of NBCF Breast Cancer in Australia: The Facts (infographic)


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