UWE researcher receives funding from Breast Cancer Campaign

Issue date: 01 March 2005

Issue date: 01/03/05

Dr Diana Harcourt at the University of West of England has been awarded a grant of £59,350 from Breast Cancer Campaign (BCC) for a three year project which will look at the personal and emotional impact on women being diagnosed with a condition known as Ductal Carcinoma in situ (DCIS) also known as early or pre-invasive breast cancer.

DCIS are cancerous cells that are contained within the milk ducts of the breast. If the cells remain in these ducts the disease is harmless, but it can grow into surrounding breast tissue and develop in to full blown breast cancer. The decision about how to treat DCIS is difficult, because in some women (if left untreated) it will spread and develop in to breast cancer and in other women it will remain in the ducts and cause no further problems. In light of this uncertainty all women with DCIS are currently treated in a similar way – with radiotherapy, drugs and surgery.

Due to the effectiveness of the breast screening programme which was introduced in 1988, increasing numbers of UK women are being diagnosed as having DCIS - however, very little is known about how they cope with this diagnosis and subsequent treatment. This research will examine women’s experiences of DCIS including how well they understand their condition and the possible effect of treatment on the body; particularly how they adjust to the experience of breast surgery in terms of body image and appearance.

This research will give healthcare professionals a greater understanding of how a DCIS diagnosis affects the patient and enable them to give better advice to women about their treatment options offering the best possible support and care.

Speaking about the research Dr Diana Harcourt said, “This is a very important area to investigate since we currently know very little about the psychological impact of receiving a diagnosis of DCIS. We hope that this research will be able to help healthcare professionals who work with women with this condition by giving them a greater understanding of the issues they face.”

Pamela Goldberg, Chief Executive, Breast Cancer Campaign says, “Being diagnosed with breast cancer has huge implications for the patient, both in terms of their physical and mental well being, and one common concern is how breast surgery will affect their appearance and body image. For those women with DCIS making the decision to have surgery can seem even harder in the knowledge that they may never actually go on to develop breast cancer. It is therefore extremely important that we address the needs of these women by funding research which will provide them with the appropriate support and care.”


Editor’s notes

Breast Cancer Campaign (BCC) funds research into breast cancer at centres of excellence throughout the UK. The Charity aims to find a cure for breast cancer by funding research which looks at improving diagnosis of breast cancer, better understanding how it develops and ultimately either curing the disease or preventing it. Media contact, Ondine Hassen, Science Media Officer, DD: 020 7749 3705, E:ohassen@bcc-uk.org

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