Working Towards a New Screening Process for Breast Cancer
In 2009, Prevent Breast Cancer launched the largest recruiting research study in the UK – PROCAS 1 (Predicting the Risk of Cancer at Screening), funded by our charity along with the National Institute of Health Research. 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, which assessed their chances of developing the disease in the next ten years.
Our researchers 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 six times. The project recruited 57,000 women over its 6-year span.
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 is the second stage of this project, which began in 2015. This project will run for 3 years and will assess whether it is possible to offer this kind of personalised risk score at a woman’s first screening appointment. Our teams also examined to kind of impact such a development would have on NHS staff, patients and related organisations (such as other breast cancer charities). The project has involved around 18,600 women and has gathered feedback from as many as possible.
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