The NCRI Breast Group published its priorities in May 2022 to address challenges faced in breast cancer research and improve outcomes for patients.
Personalised medicine and risk-adapted studies
In this key area, the group will seek to build on its successful portfolio of risk-adapted studies in breast cancer. Within this aim, the group will seek to not only develop studies examining risk-adapted treatments (including the use of genomic medicine) but will also look to further our understanding of patient attitudes to risk, such that treatment can be personalised to the patient as well as their disease.
- Develop the group’s portfolio of risk-adapted studies
- Explore patients’ attitudes to risks of disease recurrence versus therapy toxicities
- Leverage our increasing understanding of breast cancer genomics to inform patient treatment
Metastatic breast cancer
Increasing numbers of patients are living with metastatic breast cancer, and there is an urgent need to develop the portfolio of trials and studies to improve our understanding of disease biology and current treatment patterns to improve patient outcomes. The group has identified several critical areas of focus for this work.
- Understand and evaluate the current patterns of care in the UK regarding the management of oligometastatic breast cancer and to develop a study for oligometastatic breast cancer
- Develop a study to better understand the molecular basis for the development of CNS disease
- Develop a CNS screening study in patients with metastatic breast cancer
Patient-centred research focussing on key topics in the management of symptoms in patients treated for breast cancer has been a long-standing priority for the NCRI Breast Group. Recent strategy meetings highlighted several areas where there was an ongoing need to identify research gaps which would be required to be addressed by the group.
- Investigate patient adherence to treatment regimens with a specific remit to look at endocrine therapies
- Identify research gaps around urogenital symptoms/sexual health
- Investigate sleep disturbance in breast cancer patients to understand what the breast group can do compared to other support centres and charities
Early breast cancer clinical trials portfolio
A key part of the group’s activity will be to continue its highly successful development of the clinical trial portfolio in early breast cancer. In addition to the studies highlighted in the areas above, the following topics will form part of the group’s focus as it develops further studies.
- Coordinate and develop a national clinical trial examining the effect of lifestyle and exercise on patients with breast cancer
- Develop a study addressing the safety and efficacy of neoadjuvant endocrine therapy in pre-menopausal women with early breast cancer
Understanding immuno-biology of breast cancers
In this key area, the group will seek to specifically increase our understanding of the immunobiology of breast cancers, building also on the prioritises set out by the BSI-NCRI Cancer Immunology Group. Several areas have already been identified where the collaborative nature of the group can accelerate impactful future research in this area.
- Coordinate and develop a national initiative to facilitate immune profiling of breast cancers
- Coordinate and develop a national initiative for the identification of atypical responders/exceptional survivors of metastatic breast cancers
Additional strategic priorities
- Undertake a review of endpoints used in UK breast cancer trials to provide recommendations to guide the choice of endpoints promoting relevance to patients alongside scientific sensitivity
- Assess the barriers resulting in a lack of diversity in breast cancer clinical trials and propose solutions to improve equality, diversity and inclusion
Overarching strategic priorities
- Continue to support and enable the co-development of studies involving patient advocates and the clinical/scientific research community
- Strengthen links with international groups
Working groups addressing each specific strategic priority are currently being formed. These groups will be made up of the experts needed to address each research question. To ensure you are made aware of opportunities to join the working groups, join the NCRI Breast Network.