UWE researcher seeks women for breast cancer study

Issue date: 13 February 2006

Breast Cancer Campaign Ribbon A researcher from the University of the West of England is seeking women who have been diagnosed with pre-invasive breast cancer to take part in a UK wide study. Fiona Kennedy is working in partnership with Breast Cancer Campaign to explore the psychosocial affect of being diagnosed with pre invasive breast cancer.

The study will examine women's experiences of Ductal Carcinoma in Situ (DCIS), including how well they understand their condition, the emotional impact, information provision, 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 study is one of the first ever studies to explore how women cope with a diagnosis of pre-invasive breast cancer; commonly known as DCIS. DCIS is 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.

Fiona Kennedy explains, “There has been very little research specifically looking at the how women cope with a DCIS diagnosis. It is important to explore the experiences of this increasing group of women as the uncertainty in how best to treat this condition may influence how women adjust and cope with their diagnosis and treatment. We hope that this study will give us a clearer picture of the personal and emotional impact of a DCIS diagnosis and the needs of these women. This will enable us to give health professionals guidance about the best way to support women with DCIS.”

Due to the effectiveness of the breast screening programme which was introduced in 1988, increasing numbers of women in the UK are being diagnosed as having DCIS however; the decision about how to treat DCIS is difficult. In some women (if left untreated) DCIS will spread and develop into 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 surgery, radiotherapy and drugs.

This important 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.

Jenny Tyrell who was diagnosed with DCIS in 1998 says, “I was diagnosed with DCIS after a routine mammogram and opted to have a mastectomy. I certainly did not understand the implications of DCIS – even though I am a doctor!”

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.”

BCC is calling on women throughout the UK who have been diagnosed with DCIS to take part in a confidential interview (either in person or over the phone) to explore their experiences. For more information about the study or details on how to take part please visit http://www.breastcancercampaign.org or call the lead researcher Fiona Kennedy on 0117 3281890


Editors notes:

Breast Cancer Campaign 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. http://www.breastcancercampaign.org

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