A study looking at a way of identifying women who have an increased risk of breast cancer due to family history

Cancer type:

Breast cancer

Status:

Results

Phase:

Other

This study was done to see if there was a way of helping GPs identify women with an increased risk of breast cancer due to their family history.

It was open for people to join between 2014 and 2015. The team published the results in 2020.

More about this trial

There are a number of things that can increase the risk of developing breast cancer. This includes a strong family history of breast cancer or ovarian cancer

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) provide guidance for the NHS in England. They have guidelines to help find out who has a family history which could increase their risk. But they don’t identify everyone with a higher than usual risk. 

The research team for this study developed an online decision tool. They hoped it would help GPs identify women with an increased risk of developing breast cancer. 

The main aims of this study were to see whether the online decision tool:

  • could help identify women with a higher than usual risk of developing breast cancer
  • would work in primary care (GP practices)

Summary of results

The research team found that using an online decision tool did help identify women who had an increased risk of developing breast cancer.

Study design
This study was open for women aged between 30 and 60 who had not:

The research team found people to take part in this study through GP practices in England. They split 8 GP practices into 2 groups at random:

  • 4 assessed women’s risk of breast cancer in the usual way using the NICE guidelines
  • 4 assessed women’s risk of breast cancer using the online decision tool 

Results
The research team looked at patients registered at the 4 GP practices using the online decision tool. They identified 7,012 women who could take part in the study. They sent each woman a questionnaire to fill out. This asked questions about their family history of cancer and:

  • 1,127 women (16%) returned the questionnaire
  • 5,885 women (84%) didn’t return the questionnaire

The research team then entered all the information from the questionnaires into the online decision tool. 

They found that out of 1,127 women who returned the questionnaire:

  • 999 women (89%) had about the same risk of developing breast cancer as the general population
  • 128 women (11%) may have an increased risk of developing breast cancer

More than half of the women who had an increased risk were less than 50 years old. At the time of the study this was below the age that routine screening was offered.

The doctors referred 66 of the women with a possible increased risk to a specialist service. This was to assess their risk in more detail. They found that:

  • 26 women (39%) had a high risk of developing breast cancer
  • 30 women (46%) had a medium (moderate) risk of developing breast cancer
  • 10 women (15%) had a normal risk of developing breast cancer

The team also looked at the 4 GP practices that assessed women in the usual way. They found that 10 women went to the GP concerned about their family history.

Conclusion
The research team concluded that about 1 in 10 women may have an increased risk of developing breast cancer. They found that it is possible to find out more about people’s risk by using:

  • a questionnaire 
  • an online decision tool

The suggest more work is done to find out more about this tool, and other ways to assess risk. And to find out more about how much it would cost to use these methods more widely.

Where this information comes from    
We have based this summary on information from the research team. The information they sent us has been reviewed by independent specialists (peer reviewed Open a glossary item) and published in a medical journal. The figures we quote above were provided by the trial team who did the research. We have not analysed the data ourselves.

Recruitment start:

Recruitment end:

How to join a clinical trial

Please note: In order to join a trial you will need to discuss it with your doctor, unless otherwise specified.

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Chief Investigator

Professor Nadeem Qureshi

Supported by

NIHR Clinical Research Network: Cancer
NIHR Clinical Research Network: East Midlands
NIHR School for Primary Care Research
University of Nottingham

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:

Oracle 11779

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Deborah wanted to help other breast cancer patients in the future

A picture of Deborah

“Deborah agreed to take part in a trial as she was keen to help other cancer patients in the future. "If taking part in a trial means others might be helped then I’m very happy with that."

Last reviewed:

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