Breast Cancer

Every year around 50,000 new cases of breast cancer are diagnosed in the UK. Five out of six women with breast cancer in England and Wales survive for at least five years; however, around 1,000 UK women still die of breast cancer every month. Our research is aiming to increase the survival rate through…
Large-scale population studies to determine which genes are responsible for causing breast cancer,
Genetic barcoding to identify different cancer types and to help develop specific treatments,
Clinical trials to test new treatments on patients.

Advances in breast cancer research in Cambridge

Programme Contacts

University of Cambridge
Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute, Department of Oncology
University of Cambridge
Department of Oncology
Overview from Professor Carlos Caldas, Director Breast Cancer Programme

We are a team of experts in laboratory, translational and clinical research who have created the culture of working together with an ambitious aim – personalised precision treatment of women with breast cancer.

Our research spans all the way from epithelial and molecular biology, to genetic and clinical epidemiology, imaging, and clinical trials. A unique aspect of our Programme is the focus on the human form of the disease with basic laboratory research directly applied to human samples and frequent translation of laboratory findings into clinical application. Examples include the molecular stratification of patients using genomics and molecular pathology, therapy monitoring using liquid biopsies and/or metabolic imaging with MRS, a clinical trial exploring the laboratory observation of direct interaction between oestrogen and progesterone receptors in breast tumours, and the use of patient explants for pre-clinical drug development or for epithelial biology studies.

The main aim of the Programme over the next 5 years is to use longitudinal studies, particularly within the context of therapeutic trials, to unravel the clonal and cellular heterogeneity of breast cancer and its dynamic evolution with treatment.

Barcoding breast cancer

A major research project analysing the genetic barcodes of 2,000 breast cancer samples has identified 10 different types of breast cancer. Each has a different survival rate and requires a different course of treatment. The results of this research are being used to develop new tests to diagnose different breast cancer types, which will then enable each patient to be given the most effective course of treatment. Cambridge is also helping to unravel the full genetic sequence for breast cancer, as part of an international initiative to identify the genetic blueprint of 50 cancers.

Tumour sample bank

The Cambridge Breast Cancer Research Unit has collected over 20,000 tumour samples from breast cancer patients. This large diverse collection of tissue samples will be essential in the development and testing of new ways to diagnose the different types of breast cancer.

Cambridge Breast Unit

Cambridge has established a ‘one-stop’ clinic, the Cambridge Breast Unit, for rapid diagnosis of breast cancer. The diagnostic accuracy of the triple assessment (clinical examination, imaging and biopsy) is 99.6%. Nine-year survival rates of breast cancer patients treated at Addenbrookes Hospital is 84%, compared with a regional average of 78%. Around half of patients diagnosed with breast cancer at the clinic enter a clinical trial run by the Cambridge Breast Cancer Research Unit. Find out more about the Cambridge Breast Unit.

Response to hormone therapy

Researchers in Cambridge have identified how the oestrogen receptor-cistrome in primary tumours modulates response to hormone therapy. They demonstrated differential oestrogen receptor (ER) binding events in primary breast cancer (a first ever) and revealed a role for the pioneer factor FoxA1 as a crucial ER regulatory protein in drug resistant contexts, providing the impetus to develop therapeutic FoxA1 inhibitors.

Improved monitoring of response to therapy

Repeat biopsies to study genomic evolution as a result of therapy are difficult, invasive and may be confounded by intra-tumour heterogeneity. We have demonstrated the clear advantages of using circulating tumour DNA (ctDNA) over other tests as a biomarker for monitoring treatment response and disease progression in patients with metastatic disease. Specifically, we have developed a new approach, sequencing of cancer exomes in plasma, to study a series of patients who have developed resistance to chemotherapy, hormone therapy and Trastuzumab, with the aim of identifying potential causing mutations.

Breast Cancer Programme news for members

Visiting Professor
The CRUK Cambridge Centre Breast Cancer Programme is delighted to welcome Dr Nancy Davidson, AACR President, as Visiting Professor on 20-21 September 2017. Dr Davidson will be giving a lecture entitled Breast Cancer in the Age of Precision Cancer Care at the CRUK Cambridge Institute lecture theatre on Wednesday 20 September from 13.00-14.00 and will also be available for individual meetings.

Breast Cancer Programme Annual Retreat
The Breast Cancer Programme 2017 Annual Retreat will take place on Monday 2 October, at The Cambridge Building, Babraham Research Campus, CB22 3AT. 
The draft programme for the day is here.
Registration for this event has now closed. Please contact Marion.Karniely@cruk.cam.ac.uk ifyou have any questions about this event. 

Principal investigators and consultants

  • All members
  • Group leaders
  • Clinical consultants
Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Department of Oncology
Breast Unit
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PI:
Y
CC:
Y
Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Department of Surgery
Consultant Oncoplastic Breast Surgeon
(tbc)
PI:
N
CC:
N
(tbc)
PI:
N
CC:
N
Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Department of Oncology
CRUK Cambridge Institute
Honorary Consultant Medical Oncologist - Addenbrooke's Hospital
Early phase clinical trials, including expertise in: - first-in-human studies...
PI:
Y
CC:
Y
Functional Genomics of Breast Cancer. Development and utilisation of Patient derived tumour models in therapeutic research.
PI:
N
CC:
N
University of Cambridge
Department of Medical Physics and Clinical Engineering
Investigating the development and application of circulating free nucleic acids to breast cancer research.
PI:
N
CC:
N
Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Breast Unit
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PI:
N
CC:
Y
University of Cambridge
Co-ordinator for the Personalised Breast Cancer Program. Cambridge Breast Cancer Research Unit (CBCRU)
PI:
N
CC:
N
University of Cambridge
Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute
We aimed to study the effects of the TGF-beta pathway in breast cancer stem cell (BCSC) regulation. To define a role of the TGF-beta...
PI:
N
CC:
N
University of Cambridge
Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute, Department of Oncology
Honorary Academic Clinical Consultant, Head of Breast Cancer Translational Research Unit
BREAST CANCER FUNCTIONAL GENOMICS The molecular taxonomy of breast cancers has revealed a complexity that suggests that different cancers...
PI:
Y
CC:
Y
University of Cambridge
Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute
CRUK Cambridge Institute
We are interested in understanding how Estrogen Receptor (ER) transcription contributes to breast cancer cell growth and to response to...
PI:
Y
CC:
N
University of Cambridge
Department of Oncology, Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute
CRUK Cambridge Institute
Breast Cancer Genomics
PI:
N
CC:
N
Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Department of Oncology
Addenbrooke's oncology centre
I lead a national portfolio of breast cancer RT studies and translational research which aims to provide breast cancer patients with the...
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N
CC:
Y
(tbc)
PI:
N
CC:
N
Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Histopathology
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PI:
N
CC:
Y
University of Cambridge
Department of Oncology
Clinical and Translational Research in Breast and Gynaecological Cancers with the Aim of Individualising Cancer Treatments for Patients.
PI:
Y
CC:
Y
University of Cambridge
Department of Pathology
Hutchison MRC Research Centre
Chromosome rearrangements (translocations, deletions, inversions and amplifications) and mobile element insertions in breast cancer and...
PI:
Y
CC:
Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Breast Unit
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PI:
N
CC:
Y
Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Department of Radiology
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PI:
N
CC:
Y
University of Cambridge
Department of Radiology
My current research interests are in evaluating breast Tomosynthesis, non FDG radiotracers in cancer, and breast MRI. I am interested in...
PI:
Y
CC:
Y
University of Cambridge
Department of Biochemistry
CRUK Cambridge Institute
Non coding RNAs in breast cancer
PI:
Y
CC:
N
University of Cambridge
Department of Oncology
Data Manager for Breast Cancer Translational Research studies, within the Cambridge Breast Cancer Research Unit (CBCRU)
PI:
N
CC:
N
University of Cambridge
Department of Oncology
Breast Cancer Research Unit
Lead translational research nurse for the Cambridge Breast Cancer Research Unit involved in tissue and blood sample collections for breast...
PI:
N
CC:
N
University of Cambridge
Department of Pharmacology
My laboratory focuses on the triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) subtype of breast cancer. TNBC is an aggressive form of breast cancer,...
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Y
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N
Oncology drug discovery and development, SERD, PI3K mTOR AKT pathway, HER2, EGFR
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N
CC:
N
Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Cancer Research UK Cancer Research Technologies (CRT)
Department of Oncology
Clinical information system
PI:
N
CC:
N
My research has focused on genetic susceptibility to breast cancer. I am investigating the value of genomic profiling for breast cancer...
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N
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N
Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Department of Radiology
Breast Services
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N
CC:
Y
Department of Oncology, Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute
CRUK Cambridge Institute
Addenbrooke's Hospital
Profiling of the immune response in patients with metastatic breast cancer.
PI:
N
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N
AstraZeneca
Drug discovery and clinical development. PI3K-AKT-mTOR pathway, DNA damage response
PI:
N
CC:
N
Cancer Research UK Cancer Research Technologies (CRT), Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
CRUK Cambridge Institute
Breast Unit
I am lead pathologist for several research projects in breast cancer. My primary interest is the translational aspect of clinical trials...
PI:
N
CC:
Y
University of Cambridge
Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute
CRUK Cambridge Institute
Development of statistical methods and models for the analysis and integration of breast cancer high-throughput data: detection of...
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N
CC:
N
Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, University of Cambridge
CRUK Cambridge Institute
PI:
N
CC:
N
AstraZeneca
Translational Medicine Unit, Early Clinical Development, IMED Biotech Unit
- Use of ctDNA analysis as a biomarker of response/resistance to therapies and to interrogate minimal residual disease - Acquired therapy...
PI:
N
CC:
N
Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Breast Unit
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PI:
N
CC:
Y
University of Cambridge
Department of Astronomy
I lead the PathGrid project, an astro-medical initiative applying astronomical image analysis and data handling techniques, in the context...
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Y
CC:
University of Cambridge
Department of Pathology
I am a mammary gland biologist with a particular interest in the signaling pathways that regulate mammary gland development and lineage...
PI:
Y
CC:
Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Department of Radiology
(tbc)
PI:
N
CC:
N
Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Colorectal Unit
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PI:
N
CC:
Y
AstraZeneca
Department of Pharmacology
The current PhD project focus on the identification and characterization of the key transcription regulators which drive the TNBC phenotype...
PI:
N
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N