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(MCRC Non Clinical) Defining Risk Factors for Breast Cancer in Young Women


Project Description

More than 10,000 UK women per year are diagnosed with breast cancer (BC) before screening age (<50) and more than 2,000 of them die from their disease. This makes BC the most common cause of death in young women, with mortality rising exponentially through the 30s and 40s. Women with a family history of BC are known to be at increased risk and annual mammographic screening from ages 35-49 in this setting, results in lower stage BCs, with predicted improvements in mortality. However, approximately 80% of women who develop BC do not have a family history and are not currently identified as being at increased risk. Reaching these women represents a major unmet need.

We have shown in the first prospective study of its kind (PROCAS) that the combination of mammographic density, polygenic risk score (PRS) and standard risk factors accurately identifies populations of women at high risk of aggressive breast cancers that would benefit from NICE approved enhanced screening and prevention approaches. In the current study we plan to test this approach in women aged 30-39 in a case control study using tools developed as part of the MERCADO early detection alliance (risk assessment app and automated low dose risk assessment mammography), incorporating existing PRS from salivary samples. Approximately 300 breast cancer cases, aged 30-39 and without significant family history, will be identified from Wythenshawe Hospital with age, BMI and FH matched controls identified from our prospective population risk assessment protocol.

The successful student will determine, for the first time in this population:
1. To determine the association of >300 SNPs, previously identified to predict BC risk in older populations, with overall and subtype specific BC risk in younger women without a FH.
2. To determine the association of mammographic density with BC risk in this young population
3. To develop a composite risk measure from established risk factors, MD and PRS to predict overall and subtype specific BC risk.

Entry Requirements
Candidates must hold, or be about to obtain, a minimum upper second class (or equivalent) undergraduate degree in a relevant subject. A related master’s degree would be an advantage.

On the online application form select PhD Cancer Sciences. Applicants can only apply for up to TWO projects. This project has a start date of September 2020. Interviews are currently scheduled for Tuesday 25 February 2020.

Funding Notes

This Project is funded through the CRUK as part of the International Alliance for Cancer Early Detection (ACED). This four year 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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