Dr. Mousumi Majumder

Research Involves

Comprehensive Genotoxicological research to identify risk factors associated with breast cancer, understand tumor microenvironment, and find biomarkers for breast cancer early detection.

Research Relevance

This research will identify the cause of the increase in breast cancer cases and develop a blood test for breast cancer early detection.

Could a Blood Test Help Detect Breast Cancer Before it is Too Late?

One in eight women in Canada will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. There has been a significant increase in the number of breast cancer cases worldwide. This could be due to an increase in exposure to genotoxic agents (e.g., pollutants, pesticides, tobacco, UV rays) or a change in our lifestyles. It could also be due to painful cancer screening procedures, delay in diagnosis and lack of awareness about the early signs of breast cancer.

Breast cancer is a complex disease manifested by cumulative damages (mutations) in our genome, causing malfunction of normal cellular functions. 95% of breast cancer cases are sporadic (not inherited) rather a combination of lifelong exposures to genotoxic agents, mutations, and malfunction of genome repair mechanisms, will manifest as breast cancer. Dr. Majumder will develop a multidisciplinary program involving cellular, molecular, and multi-omics-based approaches to identify molecular causes of the disease and investigate genotoxic agents that might be associated with a high prevalence of breast cancer.

In Canada, women get their formal breast cancer screening at the age of 50. An increase in metastatic (cancer that spreads throughout your body) breast cancer in the young population (<50 years) is due to the delay in diagnosis, lack of awareness, and absence of a non-invasive diagnosis procedure, (such as a blood test). In a patient, there may be early signs found in the blood that indicate the presence of breast cancer. These signals are called biomarkers. The identification of sensitive and specific blood biomarker(s), which can detect early signs of disease in the blood is a global priority. A biomarker can also be used when treating breast cancer and monitoring disease progression. Dr. Majumder aims to develop a blood test for breast cancer. In collaborations with clinicians and scientists, she started collecting blood samples from both breast cancer and healthy participant’s and is now analyzing plasma proteins and RNA to identify novel biomarkers that can detect disease at an early stage. If detected at an early stage, 98% of breast cancer can be cured using a standard treatment regimen.

Non-infectious diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, chronic respiratory diseases, diabetes, and cancers are the greatest cause of death worldwide (more than 63% of global deaths). According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer and World Health Organization reports, national policies and programs should be implemented to raise awareness, reduce exposure to risk factors, and ensure that people are provided with the information and support they need to adopt healthy lifestyles. Prevention offers the most cost-effective, long-term strategy for the control of cancer and awareness is the key factor to prevention. In rural Canada, a cutting-edge cancer diagnosis is not available and public awareness about the early signs of breast cancer is very poor. Dr. Majumder plans to employ community-based approaches to improve breast cancer awareness in rural areas.

As a CRC, Dr. Majumder will build a multidisciplinary research program that involves both basic and effective real-world aspects of the discipline to establish interactions between cancer and genotoxic agents, find biomarkers for early detection, and increase breast cancer awareness.