Frenchay Hospital in world-wide study to prevent breast cancer

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

North Bristol NHS Trust is looking for women to take part in research which could lead to a breakthrough in the fight against breast cancer.

The International Breast Cancer Intervention Study (IBIS) are recruiting women to take part in the second trial in the project to find ways of preventing the disease.

Frenchay Hospital is the biggest recruiter out of all the hospitals and medical centres across the world taking part in the trial.

The Breast Care Centre at Frenchay is looking for healthy women aged between 40 and 70, who are post-menopausal and have a family history of breast cancer.

The randomised trial will involve the women taking the drug anastrozole, or a placebo, over the next five years as well as attending mammograms every 18 months.

The trial comes after IBIS-I which was designed to investigate the use of tamoxifen in preventing breast cancer in women with a higher risk of developing the disease.

The results of the study showed that tamoxifen reduced the incidence of breast cancer by one third in these high risk women but with some side effects.

IBIS-II is designed to continue the work started in IBIS-I by examining the role of anastrozole in the prevention of breast cancer.

It is thought that some forms of oestrogen help to foster breast cancer tumours.

Anastrozole reduces the amount of oestrogen in the body and there is evidence to suggest that anastrozole could be more effective than tamoxifen in preventing breast cancer in women who have not developed the disease.

Across the world 6,000 women are needed and recruitment for the trial ends in December 2011.

The first results are expected in 2013.

Frenchay has already recruited 300 women on to the trial and hope to double that in the next 18 months.

The study is supported by Cancer Research UK and sponsored by Queen Mary University of London.

Beryl Harding, 69, from Chippenham, in Wiltshire, took part in the trial after her mother battled breast cancer.

Mrs Harding has now completed the five year trial and has also encouraged a friend to take part.

She said: “I took a tablet once a day and went for regular mammograms and bone density scans to test for osteoporosis.

“To have regular check ups was reassuring and it is no bother to take a tablet every day.

“I want to help someone in the future and it is good to be a part of something that could provide a breakthrough.

“My mum had a mastectomy and was cleared of cancer so it is really worthwhile especially if you have seen a family member go through it.”

Simon Cawthorn, consultant at Frenchay Hospital’s Breast Care Centre, said: “Breast cancer is something we all hope will one day become a thing of the past and Frenchay Breast Care Centre is really proud to be a part of this research which could provide a breakthrough.

"All women in the trial will be regularly screened for breast cancer and as early detection is really important it is another reason for women to join the trial."

Women who are interested in joining the trial at Frenchay is asked to contact the Frenchay Breast Care Centre on 0117 3403492 or 3403809. Alternatively email .

  • Recent research had shown that anastrozole was more effective than tamoxifen at preventing the return of cancer in post-menopausal women who had an early breast cancer removed.
  • Anastrozole does increase the risk of bone fractures in postmenopausal women but this is closely monitored in the IBIS-II trial.
  • Women who join the prevention trial have a spinal x-ray and a bone density scan to ensure that they have a safe level of bone density.
  • Women cannot enter this study if they:
  • Have had any other cancer in the last 5 years (except non-melanoma skin cancer or carcinoma in situ of the cervix)
  • Want to carry on taking HRT (hormone replacement therapy) that contains oestrogen
  • Have had (or are planning to have) a breast(s) removed (a mastectomy) to try and prevent breast cancer
  • Have any other serious medical conditions such as heart disease.
    Women should discuss all options with their doctor before making a decision to take part in IBIS-II. Visit