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[MCRC Non-Clinical] Breast cancer risk assessment and screening for young women at high risk: Developing care pathways and assessing feasibility

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  • Full or part time
    Prof D French
    Dr S Howell
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Breast Cancer (BC) is the commonest cause of death in women under 50 years with the incidence increasing exponentially through the 30s and 40s. For women at pre-screening ages (30-45), BC is less common but more frequently lethal (77% 10year survival 50). At least 70% of women who develop BC do not have a family history and thus are not known to be at risk. Reaching these women represents a major unmet need.

The present research forms part of a programme of work to produce a breast cancer risk prediction system that can be accessed by all women as they turn 30 years. These women will be able to access an electronic platform that explains BC risk assessment and facilitates risk questionnaire completion and facilitates collection of DNA from saliva, to allow BC risk assessment. Those women with high enough risk, or in whom a dense mammogram would result in entering NICE defined moderate or high-risk groups, would be invited for low dose risk assessment mammography. Overall BC risk and suitability for NICE defined screening and prevention programmes discussed.

This PhD studentship focusses on developing acceptable care pathways for this new approach to early detection of breast cancer, and an examination of psychological impact. Building on PPI work it will involve interviewing GPs to develop care pathways that “fit” with usual practice. It will involve producing new materials for engagement and communication of results, using materials developed in PROCAS/PROCAS2 at templates. Interviews with women will ensure that materials are acceptable and comprehensible.

The PhD research will finish with evaluation of the effects on this approach on outcomes such as satisfaction, anxiety and informed choices, to establish its feasibility. This will also involve a larger questionnaire study and further interviews with healthcare professionals and participating women.

Entry Requirements
Candidates must hold, or be about to obtain, a minimum upper second class (or equivalent) undergraduate degree in relevant subject. A related master’s degree would be an advantage. If you are interested, please make direct contact with the Supervisor to discuss the project. You MUST also submit an online application form - choose PhD Psychology

Funding Notes

The Studentship will cover an annual stipend (currently at £19,000 per annum), running expenses and PhD tuition fees at UK/EU rates. Where international student fees are payable, please provide evidence within your application of how the shortfall will be covered (approximately £19,000 per annum).

As an equal opportunities institution we welcome applicants from all sections of the community regardless of gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation and transgender status. All appointments are made on merit.



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