Breast cancer is a heterogeneous disease whose prognosis varies depending upon the developmental stage of the breast tissue at diagnosis. Notably, breast cancers associated with pregnancy exhibit increased rates of metastasis and poorer long-term survival compared to those diagnosed after menopause. However, postmenopausal breast cancers associated with obesity exhibit a more aggressive behavior and confer decreased overall patient survival compared to those diagnosed in non-obese individuals. Since the mammary gland is a dynamic tissue that undergoes significant changes throughout a woman's lifetime, especially during pregnancy and following menopause, we present evidence to support the notion that changes occurring throughout development within the mammary stromal compartment may account for some of the biological differences in breast cancer subtypes and behaviors.
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