Erasmus MC is experienced in designing, running and evaluating large-scale multidisciplinary population-based randomised controlled screening trials to establish the efficacy of screening. MyPeBS is an international EU-funded clinical study that evaluates a new breast cancer screening strategy.
MyPeBS (My Personal Breast Screening) is a unique international project, funded by the European Union. It investigates whether a personalised breast cancer screening could be a better screening option for women aged 40 to 70.
Since the late 1980s, organised breast mammography screening programmes have been introduced in more and more countries across Europe, based on the results of 8 large randomised trials. The aim of mammography screening is to detect breast cancer as early as possible, primarily in order to reduce the number of breast cancer deaths but also to reduce the severity of the disease and the use of heavy cancer treatments (and associated anxiety).
These programmes have always used a “one size fits all” strategy whereby women in a target age group (typically between 50-69 years old) are invited for a mammogram (2 incidences bilateral x-ray taken of their breast) every 2 or 3 years. This approach has demonstrated benefits (reduction of breast cancer specific mortality by 20%). However, it also comes with certain side effects, such as false positive findings, overdiagnosis and overtreatment – meaning treatment of indolent cancers (ones that would never have caused problems during a woman’s lifetime because they evolve very slowly), and a small lifetime risk of radiation-induced cancer. Furthermore, the current mammography screening’s sensitivity is not perfect; and the mortality impact not as high as could be expected.
In the current strategy, all invited women are treated the same. But women are not all the same: each woman has her own individual risk of developing breast cancer, depending on many factors like genetic factors, lifestyle, or hormonal exposure.
Recent scientific advances have largely improved our understanding of breast cancer genetics and other risk factors. We now have accurate risk assessment tools and sufficient knowledge to investigate the advantages of using a new screening approach based on individual risk estimation of breast cancer: this is the goal of MyPeBS.
To meet such a goal, at MyPeBS’s core is a multi-centre, international, randomised clinical study that will recruit 85,000 women from Belgium, France, Israel, Italy and the United Kingdom.
This study will compare the current standard breast screening with a personalised strategy, which screens women at higher risk of breast cancer more often, and women at a lower risk of breast cancer less often.
The goal of this study is to answer a simple, yet fundamental, question: is it better to personalise the method and frequency of breast screening based on a woman’s individual risk?