A trial looking at MRI scans during chemotherapy before surgery for breast cancer (Neo COMICE pilot trial)

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Cancer type:

Breast cancer





This trial looked at having MRI scans during neoadjuvant chemotherapy for breast cancer. This trial was supported by Cancer Research UK.

Doctors sometimes give chemotherapy before surgery for breast cancer. This is called neoadjuvant treatment. The aim is to shrink the cancer so that you can have a smaller operation.

Neoadjuvant chemotherapy usually takes 3 to 6 months. It doesn’t work for everyone, but doctors cannot find out if it is working until the end of chemotherapy.

We know from research that MRI scans may be able to show earlier on if treatment is helping. To find out for sure if MRI scans can help, researchers need to study a large number of people having this type of treatment. This will take a number of years. The research team wanted to see if this would be possible before doing a large and expensive trial, so they did this pilot study.

The aims were to

  • Find out if it would be possible to do a much larger trial
  • Get information that will shape the main trial

Summary of results

This pilot trial showed that it should be possible to do a larger trial looking at using MRI scans to see how well neoadjuvant treatment works for breast cancer.

This trial recruited 52 people from 13 hospitals in the UK. Everyone taking part was having chemotherapy before surgery for breast cancer (neoadjuvant treatment). They all had 4 scans during treatment.

Specially trained doctors called radiologists usually look at MRI scans to see where the area of cancer is. In this trial the scans were analysed by a computer as well, to see if this was as good as doing it in person. They used 2 different methods of computer analysis, and found that they appeared to work well and could be tested further in the larger trial.

The research team found that they were able to recruit people from different hospitals to take part in the trial quite easily. They felt there would be no problems recruiting enough people to do a larger trial.

The research team concluded that it should be possible to carry out a large scale trial testing the use of MRI scans during chemotherapy for breast cancer.

We have based this summary on information from the team who ran the trial.  As far as we are aware, the information they sent us has not been reviewed independently (peer reviewed Open a glossary item) or published in a medical journal yet. The figures we quote above were provided by the trial team. 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 Lindsay Turnbull

Supported by

Cancer Clinical Trials Unit Scotland (CaCTUS)
Cancer Research UK
Hull and East Yorkshire NHS Trust
National Institute for Health Research Cancer Research Network (NCRN)
University of Hull

Other information

This is Cancer Research UK trial number CRUK/08/018.

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Last review date

CRUK internal database number:

Oracle 4510

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

Caroline took part in a clinical trial for breast cancer

“I had treatment last year and I want to give something back.”

Last reviewed:

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