Researcher: Dr Lyndsay Hughes
Location: King’s College London
Project title: Developing an Electronic-intervention to help people with breast cancer Persist with and Adhere to anti-hormone Therapy (E-PATH)
Key area: Treatment
People with ER positive breast cancer, which accounts for up to 80% of all breast cancers, can be offered anti-hormone treatment for up to 10 years to reduce the risk of recurrence. However, many find it difficult to adhere to their recommended course of treatment, and some stop altogether.
We need to find better ways to support those taking anti-hormone treatment, to ensure they get the most out of these drugs, increase their chances of survival, and have an improved quality of life during the treatment.
The science behind the project
In a previous study funded by Breast Cancer Now, Dr Hughes’ team spoke to women with ER positive breast cancer who were taking tamoxifen about what affected how likely they were to continue with the prescribed course. From this they developed a self-help manual to support women in persisting with their treatment. The manual explained why they were taking tamoxifen and how it worked, provided information about managing side effects and setting goals for medication taking, as well as activities based on identifying and challenging their thoughts and behaviours regarding their treatment.
In this study, Dr Hughes and her team will redevelop this manual into a four-week digital intervention, allowing wider distribution and the inclusion of interactive elements, which will be suitable for other anti-hormone treatments as well as tamoxifen. They will also be adapting the content based on suggestions from people with ER positive breast cancer, researchers and clinicians. They will then test the new course in a clinical trial with 220 women who are struggling to take their hormone treatment. Half of these women will take part in the four-week digital intervention alongside some phone consultations, and the other half will continue their treatment as normal. Dr Hughes’ team will then follow up with the women to see how effective the intervention was in helping them persist with their treatment, and their feelings throughout it.
What difference will this project make?
Converting the information they have already developed into a digital intervention will mean that a larger number of women will be able to access the support they may need to face the challenges associated with taking anti-hormone therapy long term. This will not only help people continue taking treatment and therefore improve their chances of survival, but also help to improve their quality of life during the treatment.