Research at Prevent Breast Cancer
This page is all about our research to predict and prevent breast cancer. If you would like to donate to help fund this research, please click here. You can even pick what category of research you would like to donate directly towards!
Why do we concentrate on preventative research?
Breast cancer remains the most common cancer in the UK. Every day 150 people are diagnosed with the disease and tragically 31 of these will lose their lives to it. Despite advances in treatment there are still 11,563 women dying of breast cancer in the UK every year. Yes we have some great treatments; but the answer to eliminating breast cancer is through prevention rather than cure.
As things stand, 1 in 9 women and 1 in 1000 men will get breast cancer during their lifetime*. Unfortunately, these figures are rising. Scientists estimate that cases of breast cancer will rise by 2% by 2035.
At Prevent Breast Cancer, we want to see a world where there is no before or after diagnosis. Promoting early diagnosis, screening and lifestyle changes, we believe we can stop the problem before it starts. And being situated at the only breast cancer prevention centre in the UK, we’re right at the front line in the fight against the disease.
* Although figures now commonly cite that 1 in 8 women and 1 in 870 men will get the disease, we keep our figures a tad lower. The lifetime risk for the average woman in the UK (median risk) is actually around 1 in 10. However, many organisations include women who have high risk gene mutations and women over 85 years of age, which increases this number to 1 in 8. The experts who advise Prevent Breast Cancer feel that the figure of 1 in 7 or 1 in 8 exaggerates the average risk, so we prefer to use the figure 1 in 9. However you define lifetime risk, we are committed to making it fall to zero!
Who carries out our research?
We fund high quality research into the prediction and prevention of breast cancer which falls into four main categories: gene research, early detection and screening, preventative drugs, or diet and lifestyle. Our grant programme allows anyone to apply if they have a suitable project they believe fits with the programme. At the moment much of our research takes place within our region at The Nightingale Centre or the virtual network of the Manchester Breast Centre, however we accept applications from any area within the UK.
We have two rounds of grant applications per year with deadlines in June and December. Grant applications are assessed internally by our Scientific Advisory Board before being sent out to external review. When reviews are received they are sent to our Board of Trustees for the final decision. Prevent Breast Cancer never funds projects involving animals.
If you would like to apply for a grant please click here to learn more.
What are our research aims?
Much of our research is undertaken with a practical objective in mind: introducing smarter breast screening to the UK by 2022 that not only detects but predicts cancer, so we can stop the disease before it starts. For those found to be at higher risk, we are committed to improving the options available to prevent breast cancer .
To fulfil these aims, we concentrate on four distinct research pillars:
- Gene Research
- To identify all the high risk and intermediate risk genes as yet undiscovered for women with a family history of breast cancer
- To show in principle that risk assessment incorporating breast density, gene fragments known as SNPs and family history can be offered to women aged 47 to 50 as part of the first screening visit to the NHS Breast Screening Programme, by studying its feasibility in the Greater Manchester area.
- Early Detection and Screening
- To improve the accuracy of screening through new technology
- To improve the process of screening women with high breast density
- To develop a strategy for risk-adapted ‘smart screening’ following risk assessment at first screen: a strategy that is cost-neutral to the NHS
- Preventative Drugs
- To develop a reliable model for testing new and re-purposed existing drugs in the lab for the purpose of prevention
- To identify biomarkers of responsiveness to preventative drugs (such as breast density measurement or blood markers)
- To open at least one new clinical trial of a new or re-purposed drug
- To ensure that currently approved drugs for prevention are made available to the public by clear clinical pathways
- Diet & Lifestyle
- To work out the mechanism through which energy restriction works in prevention
- To identify biomarkers of responsiveness to diet & lifestyle interventions
- To prove in principle that a lifestyle management programme can be offered to women as part of their first screening visit to the NHSBSP, by piloting this service within the Greater Manchester screening programme
- To develop effective diet & lifestyle programme for women in the Family History Clinic
You can read more about our Research Achievements to date, here. Or you can watch one of our researchers, Tony Howell explain more about our work. Click here to download the latest Scientific Report from The Nightingale Centre, where many of our researchers are based.