Research shows that women with BRCA1 and BRCA2, both faulty genes developed in the womb before birth, are more at risk from breast cancer.
In fact carriers have between fifty to eighty percent bigger likelihood of the cancer developing over their lifetime.
However scientists believe that only a small minority of breast cancer victims inherit their disease through their genes. For the majority of women there are no answers to why them and what could they have done to avoid it. Testing can be carried out for women at high risk from the gene and new genetic research is ongoing.
In terms of preventing the cancer from re-occurring, there is some hope in the form of a drug called tamoxifen. Trials have shown that it can lower the risk by up to 40 % however it does have quite serious side effects and much more data needs to be produced.
Unlike cervical cancer, there is unlikely to be a vaccination against breast cancer in the foreseeable future. Professor Valerie Beral is a foremost expert in this field; she believes that more studies should be carried out in this area.
In particular, trying to recreate pregnancy hormones etc, which are recognised as lessening the risks from breast cancer.
The Karmanos Cancer Institute in America, a new vaccine that they had developed after trial they had carried out with laboratory mice. By targeting the HER2 protein, they were able to destroy tumours that had previously been deemed resistant to drugs. It still has a long way to go through.