A study using MRI scans to detect breast cancer early in women at high risk

Cancer type:

Breast cancer




This study is using MRI scans to look at the fatty tissue of the breast in high risk women with a gene change to detect cancer early.
This study is open to women who:
Cancer Research UK supports this study.

More about this trial

MRI scans Open a glossary item are already one of the tests you might have to diagnose breast cancer. But at the moment these only find breast cancers that are well developed. So researchers are looking for a way to detect cancers much earlier. 
We know that changes in the fatty tissue of the body affect the hormones in the body and the growth of cancer. 
We also know that the fatty tissue in the breast of women with a gene change has a certain structure and pattern. Researchers think they could use this to predict the chance of these women getting cancer. 
In this study, the team will use an MRI scan to look at the fatty tissue of women with a gene change. And compare them with women who have a diagnosis of invasive breast cancer. 
The main aim is to find out if there is a significant difference between the fatty tissue of these women. 
Please note: you won’t get any direct benefit from taking part in this study. But the results could lead to a way of finding breast cancer early for women with a gene change. 

Who can enter

The following bullet points list the entry conditions for this study. Talk to your doctor or the trial team if you are unsure about any of these. They will be able to advise you. 
Who can take part
You may be able to join this study if you are a woman who is going to the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary and is:
  • having annual breast screening because you have a gene change (mutation) in the BRCA1, BRCA2 or TP53 gene
  • have breast cancer that has grown through into the surrounding tissue (invasive ductal breast cancer)
You must also be at least 18 years old. 
Who can’t take part
You cannot join this study if any of these apply. You:
  • have a condition such as diabetes that affects the chemical processes in your body 
  • are taking medicines such as statins that might affect how your body processes fat 
  • can’t have an MRI scan because you have a pacemaker, your kidneys don’t work well enough or you are allergic to the contrast medium used
  • have another type of cancer
  • have had surgery, started hormone therapy or chemotherapy 

Trial design

The study team need 40 women to join:
  • 20 who have a gene change
  • 20 who have invasive breast cancer   

​You have an MRI scan at the Aberdeen Biomedical Imaging Centre, Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. This takes about an hour. 

Hospital visits

You have the MRI scan done when you have a routine hospital appointment. 

Side effects

An MRI scan is very safe and doesn’t use radiation. Some people can’t have an MRI scan but a checklist you fill in beforehand picks this up. 

You might have bruising or swelling at the injection site (cannula) where the contrast medium goes in. 

You might have an allergic reaction to the contrast medium but this is rare. This most often starts with feeling weak, sweating and difficulty breathing. Tell your radiographer straight away if you feel unwell so they can give you medicine to control the reaction.



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

Dr Jiabao He

Supported by

University of Aberdeen
Cancer Research UK


Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:


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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