Dr Elinor Sawyer and team
Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS) is a non-invasive form of breast cancer. It is estimated that up to 50% of DCIS cases will develop into fully invasive breast cancer if left untreated – however, it is currently not possible to predict which DCIS cases will return or progress to invasive breast cancer. Therefore, we need ways to predict this in order to direct treatments to those who will benefit the most.
Dr Sawyer aims to find genetic variations that can be detected and measured in breast tumour samples which could help doctors decide whether a person’s DCIS is likely to come back or progress to invasive breast cancer after breast conserving surgery, also known as a ‘lumpectomy’.
To do this she will use a collection of tumour samples from a DCIS study called the Sloane Project, which will be available through the Breast Cancer Now Tissue Bank in the future. She will first compare samples from 160 patients whose DCIS returned with 160 cases of DCIS which did not come back, looking for differences in the DNA. The genetic differences between the two groups will then be confirmed in a separate collection of DCIS tumour samples.
What difference will this project make?
Ultimately, Dr Sawyer will identify genetic ‘biomarkers’ which could be used to predict whether DCIS is likely to return or progress to invasive breast cancer after surgery. In the future this could mean that women who have a high risk of recurrence could be offered radiotherapy and/or drugs after surgery, whereas women with a low risk could have the option to not receive these treatments, sparing them of side-effects.
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