Breast Cancer Research Trial

Author: Sarah Bellhouse - October 26, 2020

Sarah Bellhouse is in her second year as a PhD researcher in the Manchester Centre for Health Psychology at the University of Manchester. She has secured a four year non-clinical studentship from Manchester Cancer Research Centre to conduct her PhD.

Sarah is currently seeking women to be involved with her research. If you meet the below criteria and are interested in contributing, please get in touch by emailing sarah.bellhouse@postgrad.manchester.ac.uk

Background Information on the Research

Breast cancer starts to become more prevalent for women in their 30s and is the most common cause of death in women aged 35-50. In approximately 80% of these cases women have no one in their family affected by breast cancer (i.e. no family history). This means they are not currently aware of their potentially increased breast cancer risk and no services exist for their assessment. Identifying these women is a major unmet need as they could benefit from earlier access to breast screening or medication to prevent breast cancer from developing.

The PROCAS (Predicting the Risk of Cancer at Screening) study demonstrated that it was possible to collect the information needed to determine a breast cancer risk score during a woman’s first mammogram appointment. Risk was measured by combining information from: (1) a self-reported questionnaire of known breast cancer risk factors, (2) DNA (genetic material) from a spit sample and (3) a low dose mammogram (breast x-ray) to look at breast density (the amount of non-fatty tissue in the breast). An overwhelming majority of women wanted to know their risk score which assessed their chances of developing breast cancer in the next ten years.

My research builds on this existing research by exploring what younger women aged 30-39 years who have yet to attend breast screening think and feel about finding out their breast cancer risk. The findings from this will inform the development of a breast cancer risk assessment pathway which is expected to be trialled in 2021.

What is involved with this trial?

Sarah is looking for women to be involved with her research. Different opportunities are available such as providing feedback on her research plans, participant documents, data analysis etc. For this you can be involved as little or as much as you want to be and involvement can be via email, telephone or Zoom call. Alternatively you could get involved as a participant in one of her research studies; this would involve a one off 45-60 minute interview on Zoom. In recognition of your time and contribution, payment would be provided.

Hearing your views will help us improve how we communicate with young women about breast cancer risk prediction and understand the best way of delivering this service. In turn, this will ensure the development of a breast cancer risk prediction system and associated care pathways that women aged 30 to 39 years will engage with.

To be involved, you must fulfil the following criteria:

  • Aged 30-39 years
  • Live in Greater Manchester
  • Able to communicate in the English language
  • Have not received a breast cancer diagnosis
  • Have not had a mother or sister diagnosed with breast cancer

If you meet the above criteria and are interested in contributing, please get in touch by emailing sarah.bellhouse@postgrad.manchester.ac.uk

What this could mean for future screening?

The introduction of breast cancer risk assessment for this age group will identify women at greater risk that would benefit from enhanced breast screening and prevention services. These women would be able to access breast screening from an earlier age at more frequent intervals meaning that breast cancers could be detected earlier. Additionally, some women may be candidates for risk-reducing medication which could prevent breast cancers from developing in the first place. Ultimately, this research has the potential to reduce breast cancer related death in young women aged 30 to 39 years.