National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) Publish Strategic Priorities in Breast Cancer Research

16 June 2022

The NCRI is a UK-wide partnership between research funders working together to maximise the value and benefits of cancer research for the benefit of patients and the public.

The NCRI Breast Group has a strong track record of developing practice-changing research in breast cancer over the last decade from a foundation of multidisciplinary membership and a partnership with patients.

Following Breast Group strategy sessions held in November 2021 (with participants from various sectors and disciplines, including NCRI Consumer Forum members, early career researchers and NCRI Partners) the NCRI Breast Group has published its strategic priorities to address challenges faced in breast cancer research and improve outcomes for patients.

The group identified five strategic areas in which the group will be focussing its efforts over the next three years some of which will be of particular interest to UKONS members.

These five areas are:

1) Personalised medicine and risk-adapted studies

Work areas include the development of an extended portfolio of risk-adapted studies, research into patients’ attitudes to risks of disease recurrence versus therapy toxicities and increasing the understanding of breast cancer genomics to inform patient treatment.

2) Metastatic breast cancer

This programme will seek to understand and evaluate the current patterns of care across the UK in oligometastatic breast cancer and developing a national study into this disease group. In addition this area of study will seek to better understand the molecular basis for the development of central nervous system (CNS) disease as well as developing a CNS screening study in patients with metastatic breast cancer.

3) Symptom management

Here the group will investigate patient adherence to endocrine therapies, identify research gaps around urogenital symptoms and sexual health and consider sleep disturbance in breast cancer patients

4) Early breast cancer clinical trials

Here the group will coordinate a national clinical trial examining the effect of lifestyle and exercise on patients with breast cancer as well as developing a study addressing the safety and efficacy of neoadjuvant endocrine therapy in pre-menopausal women with early breast cancer

5) Understanding the immuno-biology of breast cancer

This work-stream will coordinate and develop a national initiative to facilitate immune profiling of breast cancers and will also coordinate a national initiative for the identification of atypical responders and exceptional survivors of metastatic breast cancers.

Additional strategic priorities for the breast group concern a formal a review of endpoints used in UK breast cancer trials to promote relevance to patients alongside scientific sensitivity and to assess the barriers resulting in a lack of diversity in breast cancer clinical trials.

Working groups addressing each specific strategic priority are currently being formed.  These groups will be made up of the experts needed to address each research question. The progress of these working groups will be published in the group's annual reports and triennial review. These can be found on the NCRI website here  Members of the NCRI Breast Network will also be updated periodically on the group’s progress. To ensure you are made aware of opportunities to join the working groups, join the NCRI Breast Network here