What is DCIS and what is PRECISION?
Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is a condition that can sometimes develop into breast cancer. Each year it affects more than 6,300 women in the UK, and thousands more worldwide.
But right now, doctors can’t tell whether women with DCIS will go on to develop breast cancer. This means that, unfortunately, some women with DCIS undergo hospital visits, surgery and even chemotherapy and radiotherapy that they don’t need, while also causing them unnecessary stress and anxiety.
The PRECISION want to change this, and stop women getting treatment they won’t benefit from.
How do we achieve our aim?
The PRECISION team will study tissue samples taken from women with DCIS during surgery. These samples will come from women living in the UK, US and the Netherlands.
We will look at these samples in great detail, studying their characteristics, including their genetic make-up and what kind of immune cells they contain. Alongside this, they will gather clinical information about these women, recording whether their DCIS came back, if they later developed breast cancer, and if so, whether it spread.
Our team will then combine all of this information and use mathematical modelling to search for clues (biomarkers) in the DNA of women who have had DCIS, that could indicate how likely they are to develop breast cancer later on.
Once they have identified potential biomarkers, we will test them in larger clinical trials for women with DCIS. Their goal is to find out whether these biomarkers can accurately and reliably distinguish between women with DCIS who will likely develop breast cancer and should be treated, and those who can safely avoid treatment.
By identifying biomarkers that can distinguish DCIS patients with a low risk of developing cancer from patients with a high risk, this project has the potential to reduce over-treatment of DCIS patients.
Ultimately, the PRECISION team hopes to spare thousands of women unnecessary treatment while making sure those who need it, get it.
Dr Jelle Wesseling
Senior Group Leader & Consultant Breast Pathologist
The Netherlands Cancer Institute,
Amsterdam, The Netherlands