Project details

Researcher: Dr Adam Brentnall

Location: Barts Cancer Institute, Queen Mary University of London

Project cost: £228,688

The challenge

The sooner breast cancer is diagnosed, the more effective treatment is likely to be. For earlier diagnosis and treatment we need to improve the way we currently screen people for breast cancer. To achieve this, we need to know who has higher chances of developing breast cancer, and who is more likely to develop an aggressive type of breast cancer. Knowing who may be more likely to develop breast cancer, and the type, means they may also be able to take steps to reduce their risk of developing the disease.

The science behind the project

Current methods used to estimate someone’s chances of developing breast cancer can’t predict the type of breast cancer the person may be at risk of developing.

Dr Adam Brentnall is creating a new tool to identify women at high risk of aggressive types breast cancer. He will improve an existing method to look at breast cancer risk that is currently widely used in the UK, by integrating the latest knowledge and understanding of the disease. So the new model could not only highlight who has higher chances of getting breast cancer, but also the type of breast cancer they are more likely to get.

This new model will be tested using data from over 200,000 women. Adam and his team will check whether the risk score it gives to each woman is accurate, and how well it can tell the difference between women who do and don’t go on to develop breast cancer. Researchers will also use this data to see if they can identify who may develop more aggressive breast cancer and how we can adapt breast screening to catch these cancers earlier.  

What difference will this project make?

This research will help healthcare professionals to identify women at a greater risk of developing an aggressive breast cancer and offer them more information and support sooner and screen them more often. Should they develop breast cancer, it can be diagnosed and treated earlier, increasing the chances of successfully treating the disease.

It could also help to identify women who are at risk of developing a type of breast cancer that could be prevented and allow them to take steps so that they can reduce this risk as much as possible.

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