A study using MRI scans to see how well chemotherapy is working in women with breast cancer (CHERNAC)

Please note - this trial is no longer recruiting patients. We hope to add results when they are available.

Cancer type:

Breast cancer




Phase 1/2

This study is using a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan to see how well chemotherapy given before surgery works for women with breast cancer.

It is for women having their treatment at St James’s Hospital in Leeds.

More about this trial

Using chemotherapy before surgery can make the cancer smaller and easier to remove. It is often used for invasive breast cancer. It is called neo adjuvant chemotherapy Open a glossary item (NACT).

To try to find out if the chemotherapy is working, doctors can ask for MRI scans before, during and after the treatment.

In this study, doctors are making small changes to a normal MRI scan. So that it measures the amount of blood that the cancer gets. They think this will tell them earlier how well the treatment is working.

The main aims of this study are to

  • see how good the MRI is at finding whether the chemotherapy is working earlier in the treatment
  • see how well the MRI works in spotting changes in the cancer blood flow before, during and after chemotherapy

Who can enter

The following bullet points list the entry conditions for this study. Talk to your doctor or the study team if you are unsure about any of these. They will be able to advise you.

You may be able to join this study if you are a woman going to be treated at St James’s Hospital in Leeds and all of the following apply. You

  • Have a large invasive breast cancer
  • Are going to have chemotherapy and then surgery
  • Have a sample of cancer (biopsy Open a glossary item) available from when you were diagnosed (the study team will check this) 
  • Are aged 18 years or over
  • Are willing to use reliable contraception during the study if there is any possibility you could become pregnant

You cannot join this study if any of these apply

  • You have already had treatment for breast cancer such as radiotherapy or chemotherapy
  • You have breast cancer that has come back (recurrence Open a glossary item)  
  • Your kidneys don’t work very well  
  • You are not able to have an MRI scan for any reason, for example you have metal implants such as a pacemaker, surgical clips, pins or plates or cochlear implants (for deafness), you have a fear of being in closed spaces (claustrophobia) or you are sensitive to the injection given during an MRI scan (known as contrast medium Open a glossary item)
  • You are pregnant or breastfeeding 

Trial design

This is a phase 1/2 study. The researchers need 50 women going to St James’ Hospital in Leeds to take part.

Everyone taking part has MRI scans.

40 women will have an MRI scan before chemotherapy and then after

  • 3 weeks (end of 1sttreatment cycle)
  • 9 weeks (end of 3rd treatment cycle)
  • the end of chemotherapy (before surgery)

A second group of 10 women have 2 MRI scans before chemotherapy. They then might have further MRI scans as part of their routine care.

Each MRI scan takes about 45 minutes and is done in the same way as a normal MRI scan.

Blood tests
You have some extra blood tests on the same day as the MRI scans.

The researchers will store these blood samples for 5 years and use them in future research studies.

You do not have to agree to have these extra blood tests if you don’t want to. You can still take part.

Tissue samples
The study team may ask you for a tissue sample of your cancer (a biopsy) to be taken at the end of the 1st treatment cycle. They will look at the sample taken when you were diagnosed and this one to see how chemotherapy changes the cancer cells.   

You do not need to agree to this research if you don’t want to. You can still take part in the study. 

Hospital visits

You go to St James’ Hospital to have the MRI scans.

The treatment you have is part of your routine care. But, you might need to make an additional visit if you agree to have a biopsy done. 

Side effects

You may have some side effects for 1 or 2 days after the biopsy on your breast. These can be

  • bleeding
  • bruising
  • swelling

We have information about having an MRI scan. 

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 David Buckley

Supported by

Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC)
Breast Cancer Now
University of Leeds 

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.

Harriet wanted to try new treatments

A picture of Harriet

“I was keen to go on a clinical trial. I wanted to try new cancer treatments and hopefully help future generations.”

Last reviewed:

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