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Approved Research

Evaluation of breast cancer risk assessment models in UK Biobank

Principal Investigator: Dr Emma Atakpa
Approved Research ID: 76282
Approval date: October 6th 2021

Lay summary

Women today are much less likely to die from breast cancer than their parents' generation, but far too many women still lose their life to the disease. We, and others, are proposing a bold approach of identifying women at risk of breast cancer and then personalising prevention and screening accordingly. For prevention of breast cancer, one approach is to identify women at greatest risk of developing a subtype of breast cancer for which there are effective therapies such as tamoxifen (oestrogen-receptor positive breast cancer). For such strategies to work, it is important that we can accurately predict risk of breast cancer for all women. At present, most studies of breast cancer risk are based on white European women, therefore we need to improve our understanding of breast cancer risk for non-European and non-white women.

We aim to evaluate tools to identify all women at high risk of breast cancer, including the subtype that may be prevented using drugs such as tamoxifen. We will focus on an existing statistical risk assessment tool that is widely used for research in the UK and USA (the Tyrer-Cuzick breast cancer risk model). The tool has been developed elsewhere with analysis on more than 200,000 women from the UK and USA. The data from UK Biobank will be used to test the models. The project will last for 3 years, by the end of which, all risk models developed during the project will be made publicly available. We will also use the data to assess various factors which increase the likelihood of a woman developing breast cancer, and see how these differ between women born in different countries and belonging to different ethnic groups.