In 2009, Prevent Breast Cancer launched the largest recruiting research study in the UK – PROCAS 1 (Predicting the Risk of Cancer at Screening). This study involved women who were coming for their first mammogram within the Greater Manchester area and gathered additional details about them to determine a breast cancer risk score for their chances of developing the disease in the next ten years.
We gathered information about their current health, their hormones (first period, pregnancies, and menopause) and their diet and lifestyle choices. As well as this we looked at their breast density (the amount of glandular tissue in ratio to fatty tissue) which can increase risk by up to 4 times. The project recruited 57,000 women over 6 years.
The project was a great success with 94% of women wanting to know their risk score. It highlighted a need in the NHS to gather this information and create a more tailored breast screening programme so that women who receive a negative mammogram result are well informed of their personal risk and can take steps to stay healthy and reduce their risk.
We now need to run the next stages of the project in a practical setting and conduct the research in 4 screening sites and build the systems that will be required to provide the women with their risk score within 6 weeks (within PROCAS 1, it was between 1 and 3 years depending on the risk score).
PROCAS 2 will run for 3 years in order to assess its full potential as well as its impact on NHS staff, patients and related organisations (such as other breast cancer charities). It is expected that the project will involve 18,600 women and will gather feedback from as many as possible.