Europa Donna UK 2013

    Karen Robb, a member of the Macmillan Consequences of Cancer Treatment Collaborative (CCAT), recently attended the Europa Donna UK symposium entitled “Breast cancer: risk factors, prevention, lifestyle”. The event was held in London on 5 March 2013. Here is her summary of the event.

    The Europa Donna symposium was an extremely informative event with a great deal of clinical relevance and three excellent speakers: Prof Jack Cuzick, Prof Anthony Howell and Dr Michelle Harvie.

    Prof Cuzick gave an excellent overview of the major risk factors for breast cancer, outlining factors under the headings of family history, reproductive and hormonal factors, benign pathology and mammographic density. He outlined the current models which are available to predict breast cancer risk including the ‘Tyrer-Cuzick model’ . A key message was that we need to identify those individuals at highest risk of breast cancer and focus preventative work there.

    Prof Howell drew our attention to a few recent publications which give a good overview of cancer risk and prevention, including a book entitled ‘World Breast Cancer Report’ by Boyle et al. 2012 and an article in the European Journal of Cancer by Sullivan et al. 2012 entitled ‘Cancer risk and prevention in a globalised world: Solving the public policy mismatch’. He described a NIHR funded study in Manchester called PROCAS (prediction of cancer at screening) which aims to predict breast cancer risk for women who attend routine NHS breast screening in Greater Manchester. He also discussed results from a breast cancer prevention trial entitled IBIS-1 which showed that Tamoxifen reduced the risk of breast cancer in women who had a high risk of getting it.

    Dr Harvie helped us understand the complex area of body weight and breast cancer and drew our attention to some key studies in the field. She gave some startling statistics around weight gain and the inherent risks not just with respect to breast cancer but also to diabetes and cardiovascular disease. She introduced the audience to the theory of ‘intermittent energy restriction’ which has gained media attention recently. This involves eating normally for 5 days and reducing calorie intake by 75 per cent over 2 days. She discussed some of the evidence to support this theory as well as some future research areas.

    Following the three presentations there was sufficient time to ask questions and get clarification on the key points made by the speakers. This was an excellent event and I would encourage colleagues to attend future events if at all possible.