Kathleen F. Arcaro
Research areas include developing tools for early detection of breast cancer, discovery of molecular biomarkers for individual assessment of breast cancer risk, defining the early molecular events in BRCA-breast cancer, and developing strategies to reduce breast cancer risk.
Accurate risk assessment and early detection of breast cancer can greatly reduce disease occurrence and related mortality through tailored preventive strategies and early treatment. We use breast milk as a model system for studying breast cancer risk and etiology. Breast milk provides a noninvasive method of obtaining breast tissue, as an ounce of milk can contain millions of cells including sloughed epithelial cells from the lining of the glands. These exfoliated epithelial cells are extremely useful in assessing somatic changes, both the genetic mutations and epigenetic alterations, associated with breast cancer risk. We have focused on epigenetic biomarkers of risk, in particular DNA methylation, because aberrant DNA methylation occurs early in the etiology of breast cancer and is potentially reversible with diet and/or drugs. We currently are conducting a randomized clinical trial to determine the extent to which increased consumption of fruits and vegetables reduces breast inflammation and modifies the breast DNA methylation profile in a manner consistent with reduced breast cancer risk. In other studies we are defining the pre-symptomatic profile of BRCA- breast cancer through examination of sloughed epithelial cells from the milk of women with a germline pathogenic mutation in the BRCA gene.
Learn more at www.vasci.umass.edu/research-faculty/kathleen-f-arcaro
- BS Douglas College, 1980
- PhD Rutgers University, 1986
- NIH Postdoctoral Fellowship, University at Albany, 1987 – 1990