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Breast Oncology and Research

 

Our oncology service is led by Dr Harihar, who is based at the Norfolk & Norwich Hospital, and supported by Dr Han, who is based at the James Paget.

Our oncologists run weekly breast clinics and support our Breast Multi-Disciplinary Team meeting where all cancer cases are discussed by a panel of experienced clinicians.

Dr Harihar’s team oversees non-surgical cancer treatments, including chemotherapy (delivered locally in the Sandra Chapman Centre at the James Paget University Hospital) and radiotherapy (delivered at the Norfolk & Norwich Hospital). 

Wendy Harrison is the Cancer/ Oncology Clinical Research Nurse for the Breast Unit. She joined our research team in 2016 after ten years as a chemotherapy nurse on Ward 17.  Her role involves approaching patients to join a clinical trial, which could be a drug trials or a questionnaire, and then supporting patients through their research journey. 

With the support of our oncologists, we offer selected patients entry into clinical trials. These include Primetime (reducing radiotherapy in very low risk disease) and ATNEC (minimising axillary surgery following neo-adjuvant chemotherapy).

We are also currently recruiting to the BEAM study - please see below for more details.

 

BEAM Study

Our gut is home to trillions of different microbes that play a critical role in maintaining our health – what we call the microbiota. These microbes help programme our immune system and help us to digest the food that we eat. Recent work suggests that the microbiota can be disturbed or changed by different factors such as diet and certain medicines like antibiotics. This has been linked to an increased risk of developing diseases, e.g. inflammatory bowel disease and allergies.

Indeed, there have been some exciting studies showing that different types of gut bacteria can be used to improve health outcomes.

To build on these studies, we would like to look at women above 30 years-old to understand how the gut microbiota can affect breast health. The study aims to characterise a healthy microbiota ‘signature’ that may allow us to develop new therapies in next stage studies. For this study we might ask willing participants for some material:

We aim to collect the following at these time points for patients with a new diagnosis of breast cancer when they visit our Hospital.

  • Less than 4 faecal (stool) samples for one year.
  • We will provide a collection kit when visiting the Hospital. The kit makes it easier to collect samples in a hygienic manner.
  • Patients then return the sample to us by pre-paid post, so sample collection can be performed at home and can then be put in the post.

Faecal samples give us a snapshot of your microbiota at that moment in time. Your microbiota will change according to your diet, exercise and any treatment regime you may undergo in the future. For patients who choose to participate, we may also ask them to complete an online questionnaire to see how different lifestyle and diet choices may link to the gut microbiota profiles. We would also like to analyse any leftover surgical tissue (from those who have surgery), so we can also look at immune cells in different types of tissue and link this to gut microbiota profiles. To do this, we always obtain permission and signed consent.

CAN YOU TAKE PART IN THIS STUDY?

Should you be interested in taking part in this study we ask that all these statements apply to you:

• You are above the age of 30.

• You have not had cancer of any type before given this sheet.

• You have not had any antibiotic treatment (from the GP or Hospital) in the last six months.

If you have answered YES to all of these, you are eligible for the study. Should you be uncertain please do not hesitate to ask.