Accessibility tools
cuh logo

Call for 10,000 volunteers for UK breast cancer study

Eileen Hughes has signed up to an international trial, led in the UK by Addenbrooke’s, to test a more personalised way to screen for breast cancer and detect it sooner.

Eileen Hughes
Eileen Hughes joined the MyPeBs trial following a routine mammogram

When I was told I was high risk, I was shocked at first but then reassured that I would get extra screening

Eileen Hughes

The study involves 6 European countries and is looking to recruit 85,000 volunteers aged between 50 and 70 who have never had breast cancer before – 10,000 volunteers are needed from the UK.

Volunteers are randomly assigned to either the standard NHS 3 year screening programme, or a personalised screening schedule according to their risk of breast cancer.

Eileen Hughes was assigned to the personalised arm of the study and asked to fill in a questionnaire about her family history of cancer. She also gave a saliva sample, which was sent off for genetic testing in Paris, to check her DNA for cancer risk.

After several weeks, she was contacted by the trial team and told she was at high risk and would therefore have breast screening every year, instead of every three years. She said:

"It's like being in a safety net. Now I'll get screened more often and that means if there are any signs of cancer developing I can be treated sooner."

Professor Fiona Gilbert explains the aim of the trial

Professor Fiona Gilbert explains the aim of the trial

Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xpOkNCOoNkU

By taking a saliva sample and history from those selected on the trial, we can identify whether they are at higher or lower risk

Professor Fiona Gilbert, honorary consultant at Cambridge University Hospitals (CUH)

Fiona Gilbert, professor of radiology at the University of Cambridge and honorary consultant at CUH, is leading the UK study. She hopes the 'MyPeBs' trial, short for my personal breast screening, will see monitoring improved for all. She said:

“This is an opportunity to take part in one of the largest studies so far into how we find early stage breast cancer.

By taking a saliva sample and history from those selected on the trial, we can identify whether they are at higher or lower risk of developing breast cancer. Once we know this, we can tailor screening to their own personal needs."

Where to sign up:

Anyone interested in joining the trial can find information on the MyPeBs website:

http://www.mypebs.eu

With almost 355,000 new cases diagnosed and 92,000 deaths each year in Europe, breast cancer is the most common and deadliest cancer in women, but it is most often curable if diagnosed early enough.

At the moment, all those aged 50 to 70 years are invited to participate in the NHS breast cancer screening programme by having a mammogram every three years.

However, not all are identical when it comes to breast cancer risk. Several factors including genetics, hormones, family history and breast density can put some at higher risk compared to others.

So far three NHS sites are involved in the trial, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (CUH), the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust (MFT).

We all carry tiny genetic variations and our unique combination of these can either raise or lower women’s risk of developing breast cancer

Gareth Evans, professor in medical genetics and cancer epidemiology at Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust

Gareth Evans, professor in medical genetics and cancer epidemiology at Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust (MFT) and leads the study in Manchester. He said:

“We all carry tiny genetic variations, called single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), and our unique combination of these can either raise or lower women’s risk of developing breast cancer, when combined with traditional risk factors like family and reproductive history, our health and lifestyle, and breast density."

The trial hopes to establish whether personalised risk-based screening could be more efficient and safer than the current, standard screening programmes, with fewer late-stage breast cancers diagnosed alongside fewer false positives and over-diagnoses.

In total around 20,000 volunteers have joined the trial which started in summer.

Around 1,000 have joined the UK trial so far.

About NHS breast screening:

The NHS in England carries out around 2.1m breast cancer screens, each year in hospitals, and mobile screening vans usually in convenient community locations, such as supermarket car parks.

Women are offered screening from the age of 50 years as 80 per cent of breast cancers (four out of five) are diagnosed in women aged over 50

Anyone who has noticed any abnormal changes to their breasts should contact their GP as soon as possible.

NHS England suggest people regularly take a ‘TLC’:

  • TOUCH your breasts. Can you feel anything unusual?
  • LOOK for changes. Is there any change in shape or texture?
  • CHECK anything unusual with your doctor

The UK based charity Independent Cancer Patients' Voice is a partner of the MyPeBS consortium which oversee the study.

http://www.independentcancerpatientsvoice.org.uk/what-we-do/