The rising incidence of breast cancer in premenopausal women is a major clinical challenge in many parts of the world, including Latin America. Recent advances in some countries demonstrate that breast cancer is often a treatable disease. In Europe, Japan, and the USA, breast cancer mortality has significantly decreased over the past 10 years due to a combination of screening/early detection and better treatment based on protocols that take into account the specific tumour characteristics (e.g. anti-hormone therapy, therapeutic modalities targeting activated HER-2 or angiogenesis).

Improved knowledge of clinical and pathological breast cancer profiles in Latin America will have immediate clinical benefits, allowing clinicians to better select the most effective treatment options for Latin American patients. A range of therapeutic options are now available for different types of breast cancer, including aggressive types; however, deciding on the most appropriate treatment protocol for a patient remains a challenge. The PRECAMA study will help develop a protocol for dissemination of appropriate drugs and treatment across major centres in Latin America. The study aims to transfer this new knowledge as quickly as possible from bench to bedside and to offer training to make sure that the use of such markers quickly becomes standard practice in the management of breast cancer in leading Latin American centres.

A second benefit of the study will be a more in-depth understanding of the clinical context and the stage at which breast cancer is currently detected and diagnosed in Latin America. Identification of factors associated with women’s decisions to seek medical care for breast complaints will help identify obstacles to obtaining medical care at earlier stages of the disease. This will, in turn, allow public health officials to define screening strategies, aiming to achieve breast cancer diagnosis at earlier stages and hence improved survival.

Human resource development will be another direct benefit of the project. Technical and scientific staff from participating centres and hospitals will be involved in the analysis of tumours and data, with opportunities to receive training and to learn biomarker analysis procedures.

The primary long-term benefit of this research will be breast cancer prevention and early detection in highly susceptible subgroups. This will be possible through achieving the project’s aim of better understanding risk factors for premenopausal breast cancer and, when possible, developing strategies to prevent future cases through targeted interventions for modifiable risk factors such as diet and lifestyle. This approach will develop predictive models for different subtypes of breast cancer and disseminate information and education programmes about breast cancer awareness and early detection, targeting young women.