BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Health  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
Medical notes
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Thursday, 28 November, 2002, 00:13 GMT
Trial into early breast tests
The trial will involve women between 40 and 44
Thousands of women across the UK are to take part in a major study to see if early screening for breast cancer cuts deaths in "at risk" groups.

The government-funded trial aims to provide a clear answer on whether screening younger women who have a family history of breast cancer can save lives.

Around 10,000 women between the ages of 40 and 44 will be recruited for the five-year trial.


We hope to deliver good evidence one way or the other

Dr James Mackay, Institute of Child Health
Only women with a strong family history of the disease will be asked to take part. It will not include those who may be genetically predisposed to the disease.

The women will be screened every year for five years. Researchers will then compare how many tumours were identified and how many would have been missed if the women had not had mammographies.

National programme

They will also evaluate the overall benefits to the women and whether a national screening programme for this group would be cost effective.

The government has allocated 600,000 towards the cost of the trial.

Dr James Mackay, a genetic oncologist at the Institute of Child Health in London, who is leading the project, said: "Our priority in this study is to reach a clear conclusion of whether mammography works in this group of women and how much it costs.

"There is a lot of uncertainty in this field and we hope to deliver good evidence one way or the other on whether screening provides a real benefit or not."

Dr Stephen Duffy, who works for Cancer Research UK and one those involved in the trial, said: "We are looking at women with a significant family history of breast cancer."

He added: "For example, we would look at women whose mother had contracted breast cancer before the age of 40 or whose mother had cancer in both breasts under the age of 50."

Sir Paul Nurse, Cancer Research UK chief executive, said: "Young women, who have had a close relative develop breast cancer are naturally concerned about their own risk of developing the disease.

"At present we simply don't know whether early breast screening could provide an important means of monitoring their health, so this study will provide valuable insight and help us frame our advice."

Psychological impact

Cancer Research UK is funding a second study which will look at the psychological effects of screening on these women.

Kate Law, its head of clinical trials, said it was important to recognise that regular mammography is stressful.

"It is already stressful for these women to undergo regular screening as they have an acknowledged higher risk of breast cancer."

She added: "Mammography will pick things up that need to be tested and although the majority of lumps turn out not to be cancer, it can be distressing for women to go through this process.

"On the other hand many women will find early screening very reassuring. All this needs to be balanced."

Only women between the ages of 50 and 64 are offered a mammography every three years as part of the NHS breast cancer screening programme.

This will be extended to include women up to the age of 70 over the next two years.

See also:

21 Nov 02 | Health
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Health stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Health stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes