A research team led by Professor Gareth Evans at the Nightingale Centre and Genesis Prevention Centre based in the Wythenshawe Hospital in Greater Manchester, UK, will carry out the biggest ever study to look at the causes of breast cancer with the aim of improving screening and diagnosis. One in 10 women in the UK develop breast cancer with 44,000 diagnoses a year, making it the most common cancer in British women.
Over the next three years, women over aged 47 or above attending NHS screening facilities will be invited to join a five year study. As part of the study, the participants will have to fill in a survey detailing lifestyle choices and incidence of familial disease. One in six will also give DNA samples, to help build a comprehensive understanding of the relationship between factors such as diet and an increased genetic tendency towards breast cancer. The information gathered will be consolidated by medical professionals, to assess each woman's risk of getting breast cancer in the next 10 years and also for the rest of their lifetime.
All women who participate in the survey will be given the option of find out their results. If it is determined from the study that they have a higher chance of developing breast cancer, then advice and support will be offered. For those identified as having a very high risk, counselling will be available and the possible choice of preventative surgery. It is hoped that the study will provide the appropriate information to make important changes to when and how often women are recalled for breast screening, based on an informed calculation of their risk of developing breast cancer.
Professor Evans commented that: 'this is a very exciting study. It is the first of its sort to assess women who are being screened and assesses their risk'. The research is being funded by a £1.59m National Institute for Health Research programme grant and support from Genesis Appeal.