Cancer Research UK funds new breast cancer trials

In collaboration with the Press Association

A trial part-funded by Cancer Research UK is to explore a potential new treatment for women with hereditary breast cancer.

The international trial, also funded by Breakthrough Breast Cancer, will examine the effectiveness of carboplatin, a chemotherapy drug not previously used for breast cancer, against standard chemotherapy in women who have a fault in one of the BRCA genes, BRCA1 or BRCA2.

A BRCA gene fault can give its carrier an 80 per cent chance of developing breast cancer by the age of 70. Around one in twenty breast cancer cases are caused by faults in one of these genes.

Currently, there is no chemotherapy treatment tailored specifically for women with faulty BRCA genes.

"This genetically tailored chemotherapy treatment, carboplatin, acts in a much more focused manner than standard chemotherapy," said Dr Andrew Tutt of Breakthrough Breast Cancer, who carried out the original research into carboplatin and breast cancer.

"While standard chemotherapy can affect any rapidly growing cell, these platinum drugs seem to be much more effective in destroying the cancerous BRCA cells.

"We hope this will mean improved quality of life and survival for women with this rare but important form of genetic breast cancer," added Dr Tutt, who is also an oncologist at Guy's and St Thomas' Hospital in London.

The study will monitor 150 women in the UK, Israel, America and Australia over a period of four years.

Patients who want to sign up for the trial need to have a known fault in either BRCA1 or BRCA2, have a cancer that has spread beyond the breast and lymph glands and for which surgery is not suitable.

They must also not have had any chemotherapy since the cancer spread.

Find out about the trial

Find out more about BRCA gene faults on CancerHelp UK