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Luke McCaffrey


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Luke McCaffrey
Luke McCaffrey Associate Professor Department of Oncology, McGill University

Why Choosing Breast Cancer?

Even though breast cancer mortality rates have decreased, the incidence of breast cancer has increased and continues to impact thousands of women and their families. In many cases, it is possible to detect, at a very early stage, changes in breast tissue that predispose women to breast cancer. In certain cases, these changes will develop into cancer and treatment will be required. In other cases, there will be no cancer progression and, therefore, no need for aggressive treatments. Being able to make a distinction between these two cases would be highly beneficial for women: those who require treatments will receive them, while those who show a lower risk of cancer will be monitored without being exposed to the negative effects of treatments. At the present time, however, there is no way of knowing which changes will develop into cancer, essentially because there is still much to understand on how normal cells transform themselves into breast cancer cells. I am interested in understanding the first stages of breast cancer progression as this will enable us make a distinction between breast lesions detected in the early stages that are the most likely to develop into cancer from those that have little chance of developing into cancer.

A Scientific Accomplishment You Are Proud of

My research team has identified a previously unknown role for a protein called Par3 which, in breast cancer, is expressed in lower-than-normal levels. We noted that loss of the Par3 polarity protein promotes breast cancer growth and metastasis by triggering an invasive program of breast tumour cells.  

Field(s) of Research

  • All
  • The biology of cancer  
  • Screening, diagnosis or prognosis
  • The development of scientific models  


Research Scholar, Fonds de recherche du Québec – Santé (FRQS)

Projects Funded by the Foundation

Molecular mechanisms in the transition from normal epithelial cells to malignant cells in early-stage breast cancer