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Precision Breast Cancer Institute

We are applying the latest genomic advances to tailor treatment for breast cancer patients.

CCRH - test tubes in lab
Test tubes in laboratory

We aim to bring personalised precision treatment to patients with breast cancer, maximising treatment efficacy and minimising the risk of debilitating side effects. We also strive to pursue a better understanding of the molecular taxonomy and drivers of breast cancer as this is critical to delivering personalised precision treatment.

Embedded within the Cambridge Cancer Research Hospital, the Precision Breast Cancer Institute aims to:

  • Use neoadjuvant treatment (where treatment is given before surgery with the aim of shrinking the tumour) as a platform to both achieve better tumour control and perform translational studies to characterise the effects of therapy.
  • Transform monitoring of disease progression and/or response to therapy by harnessing novel, minimally-invasive technologies. Our translational studies are testing the clinical utility of advanced imaging modalities and detection of circulating tumour DNA – where fragments of tumour DNA shed into the blood system can be distinguished from normal DNA in a blood sample, also known as a ‘liquid biopsy’.
  • Reduce the burden of over-diagnosis and over-treatment of low-grade, low-risk breast lesions. De-escalation studies led by our radiologists, surgeons and oncologists are reducing the cost of over-treating breast cancer patients to the NHS, whilst actively improving the quality of life for patients without negatively impacting on their survival outcomes.

Watch a talk on precision breast cancer medicine given by Professor Jean Abraham for members of Cambridge University Hospitals


Precision breast cancer medicine in action

Cambridge is home to the world's first Personalised Breast Cancer Programme (PBCP).

We offer whole genome (DNA) and ribonucleic acid (RNA) sequencing of all women and men with breast cancer treated at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, who consent to take part in PBCP. This data is integrated into NHS patient medical records, discussed by doctors, and used to guide patient care decisions.

The PBCP has introduced the use of genomic data in real time clinical management for over 1000 patients diagnosed with breast cancer. The PBCP is also advancing our understanding of breast cancer and how to treat it. Researchers across the world study anonymised clinical data, blood, tissue and faeces samples, and imaging and pathology data from patients enrolled on the programme.

The pilot study for the PBCP was funded by Addenbrooke's Charitable Trust (ACT) and the full study is a partnership between The Mark Foundation for Cancer Research, Cancer Research UK and Illumina. Similar studies are being set up in brain, pancreatic, renal and ovarian cancers.

Listen to the CRUK Cambridge Centre podcast (opens in a new tab) with Rebecca Lucey and Lynsey Drewett from the Precision Breast Cancer Institute, talking about co-ordinating the delivery of chemotherapy and targeted therapy in the early breast cancer setting and how they manage recruitment of patients to the Personalised Breast Cancer Programme.

Research leads/directors: Professor Jean Abraham and Professor Jason Carroll

For more information, please visit the breast cancer page on the CRUK Cambridge Centre website. (opens in a new tab)