- A new pilot project by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) aims to collect information about breast cancer recurrence.
- The Breast Cancer Recurrence Project will be a long-term program that will take a few years to complete.
Why this matters
- Patients with breast cancer want accurate information about the risk for recurrence after treatment.
- Breast cancer advocates have been urging Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) for a long time to count recurrence, including metastatic recurrence.
- In 2015, patient advocate Katherine O'Brien led the creation of an online petition asking SEER, the CDC, and all state cancer registries to start counting all individuals living with metastatic breast cancer, including those with early-stage disease who have progressed.
- The Breast Cancer Recurrence Project will implement additional "data elements" into SEER that will enable calculation of breast cancer recurrence.
- Tracking recurrence is complex because several elements are likely to influence recurrence.
- To tackle the complexity, the NCI needs to initially identify the data required to tally recurrence and the frequency at which they are collected.
- As a first step, investigators identified 444 early-stage clinical trials.
- Participants were stratified by subtype and tumor characteristics, allowing the analysis of risk-group and treatment-dependent differences in recurrence.
- The next step will be extracting recurrence rates from these trials.
- The project is a collaboration with other agencies, including the International Agency for Research on Cancer and Public Health England to fine-tune the data elements.