Call for applications to tackle gaps in breast cancer early diagnosis and prevention research.
In 2013, Breast Cancer Now identified a need for research that would better identify women at high risk of breast cancer, and that would lead to interventions to reduce their risk. This included support for the introduction of risk stratified screening within the UK’s breast screening programmes. The challenges were highlighted in the publication “Critical research gaps and translational priorities for the successful prevention and treatment of breast cancer”1. These challenges still remain to be addressed.
Breast Cancer Now’s strategy shows how we want to help prevent breast cancer and stop deaths from breast cancer by:
- Supporting efforts to create a more refined risk-adapted screening programme, in addition to screening based on gender and age
- Developing research and interventions that reduce the risk of breast cancer
- Supporting women who attend breast screening to take action to reduce their risk of breast cancer
Our research is contributing to developing and improving the risk assessment and interventions for women in different breast cancer risk categories. We want to extend this work by continuing to fund research in this critical area. This could involve, for instance, reducing the frequency of screening for those at lower risk, or offering additional screening interventions for those at higher risk.
We are looking to fund research to find out whether this approach would be acceptable to women, particularly to those that are not yet invited to routine screening. We want to know if such a plan would be feasible, and whether it would deliver a reduction in cases of breast cancer, but do this within NICE’s cost effectiveness thresholds for new technology assessments. We will also consider research into improving ways to detect cancer in higher risk women with dense breasts.
In the longer term we also want to support more research to integrate appropriate prevention interventions within these groups, and to make clinicians and the public more aware of the benefits and potential side effects of different interventions.
Ultimately, Breast Cancer Now is seeking evidence as to whether it is possible and appropriate to offer women risk adapted screening and prevention interventions. We want to see breast cancer not just diagnosed earlier, but prevented in the first place.