“I was keen to go on a clinical trial. I wanted to try new cancer treatments and hopefully help future generations.”
A study to see if information about risk affects whether women follow a weight loss programme (PROCAS lifestyle study)
This study looked at the individual risk of getting breast cancer and if this increases the number of women who follow a diet and exercise programme.
It was open for people to join between 2014 and 2016. The team published the results in 2019.
More about this trial
Being overweight and not having a healthy lifestyle are linked to an increased risk of breast cancer and other diseases including heart disease, stroke and
In this study, researchers looked at whether women in the NHS breast screening programme would be interested in lifestyle changes to reduce their risk of developing cancer and other diseases.
The study was run to see if it would be possible to run a larger trial. This is a pilot study or feasibility study.
The main aims were to see:
- how many women are willing to take part
- whether the level of breast cancer risk effects how many people join the programme and stick to it
- if finding out about the risk of other diseases motivates people to take part
- whether the online diet and exercise programme can help women to lose weight
Summary of results
The study team found that people with a higher risk of developing breast cancer are more likely to join, and stick to, a diet and exercise programme.
The study was for people who had already joined the main PROCAS study. People were put into one of 4 risk groups, based on their chance of developing breast cancer within the next 10 years.
Everyone took part in a weight loss and lifestyle programme. They had support from a dietitian online and by phone for a year.
PROCAS lifestyle had 2 separate sub studies.
Sub study 1
People in this sub study knew their risk of developing breast cancer before they joined. They were put into 1 of 2 groups at
- 40 people in group 1. They had been told about their risk of breast cancer.
- 80 people in group 2. They had been told about their risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes, as well as their risk of breast cancer.
Sub study 2
People in this sub study were told their risk of breast cancer after they joined. They were put into 1 of 2 groups at random. There were:
- 26 people in group 1. They were told about their risk of breast cancer.
- 26 people in group 2. They were told about their risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes, as well as breast cancer.
The team found the number of people who decided to join sub study 1 and sub study 2 were similar. This was:
- 126 out of 1,356 people (9%) who were invited joined study 1
- 52 out of 738 people (7%) who were invited joined study 2
The study team found that people who knew they had an increased risk of breast cancer were more likely to:
- join the weight loss programme
- continue with the programme for a year
- lose weight
This was compared to people who had a low risk of developing breast cancer.
Knowing the risk of other diseases didn’t seem to increase the number of women who joined and stuck with the programme.
This was a small pilot study so it was difficult for the team to draw firm conclusions. The team plan to look at how well the programme works for people with a high risk of breast cancer in a larger trial.
More detailed information
There is more information about this research in the reference below.
Please note, this article isn’t in plain English. It has been written for health care professionals and researchers.
Breast cancer risk status influences uptake, retention and efficacy of a weight loss programme amongst breast cancer screening attendees: two randomised controlled feasibility trials
M.Harvie and others
BMC Cancer, 2019. Volume 19, 1089
Where this information comes from
We have based this summary on the information in the article above. This has been reviewed by independent specialists (
How to join a clinical trial
Dr Michelle Harvie
Genesis Breast Cancer Prevention Centre
NIHR Clinical Research Network: Cancer
University Hospital of South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust