Loughborough University academics are to conduct research as part of a large-scale international project investigating whether personalised breast cancer screening is a better screening option for women aged 40 to 70.
MyPeBS (My Personalised Breast Screening) is a unique seven-year-long randomised clinical study that will run trials with 85,000 women from five different countries to compare personalised risk-based screening to standard screening. It has received 12.5 million euros (£11.2m) of funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and brings together 25 European, Israeli and American groups and institutions.
Since the late 1980s, organised breast mammography screening programmes have been introduced in more and more countries across Europe, and these programmes have always used a ‘one size fits all’ strategy whereby women in a target age group (typically between 50-69-years-old) are invited for a mammogram every two or three years.
This approach has demonstrated benefits (reduction of breast cancer-specific mortality by 20%), however researchers say it is not perfect and comes with side effects including false-positive findings, overdiagnosis and overtreatment.
In the current strategy, all invited women are treated the same, but each woman has her own individual risk of developing breast cancer depending on factors such as genetics, lifestyle, or hormonal exposure.
MyPeBS is investigating the advantages of using a new screening approach based on individual risk estimation of breast cancer.
Radiologists will assess each woman and make an informed recommendation for when they should undertake screenings. For example, a woman who has a family history of breast cancer may be classed as ‘high risk’ and advised to have a yearly screening, whereas a woman with no family history of breast cancer and no other risk indicators may be told a screening every four years would be more appropriate.
The study will compare two groups of women – one following the current standard breast screening and the other following a personalised risk-based screening strategy.
In the MyPeBS trial, some 300 radiologists will report breast screening cases across five countries – Belgium, France, Israel, Italy, and the United Kingdom – therefore it is important to monitor their performance and ensure that there is an established standard of performance and equivalence of skill levels in identifying any breast abnormalities.