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Research to help breast cancer patients reduce risk of recurrence

24th January 2018

Northumbria University is leading research as part of a project to help breast cancer patients in Yorkshire and the North East reduce their risk of the disease returning.

The research, led by John Saxton, Professor in Clinical Exercise Physiology at Northumbria, will focus on helping breast cancer patients achieve and maintain a healthy weight following treatment. Dr Helen Crank, Reader at the Centre for Sport and Exercise Science, Sheffield Hallam University, will help to lead and coordinate this research in Sheffield and Newcastle.

The research - funded by Yorkshire Cancer Research - shows that two thirds of women are overweight when diagnosed with breast cancer. Extra body weight can lead to higher levels of the hormone oestrogen and harmful substances in the blood, which can then fuel the growth and spread of breast cancer cells.

A support programme, including counselling sessions, skills workshops and phone calls, will be co-designed with patient representatives. Patients from Yorkshire and the North East who have undergone treatment for a type of breast cancer that uses oestrogen to grow - known as ‘ER positive’ breast cancer - will be recruited to take part in the initiative as part of a clinical trial.

Professor Saxton said: “There is already convincing evidence for the positive impact of healthy lifestyles in women living with and beyond breast cancer. However, a pragmatic intervention is needed to deliver sustainable lifestyle support to women who would benefit. This project will develop such an intervention and ensure that an increasing number of women from Yorkshire and the North East enjoy a high quality and prolonged period of survivorship after breast cancer.”

Dr Kathryn Scott, Chief Executive at Yorkshire Cancer Research, said: “With more and more women surviving breast cancer, patients’ needs post-treatment are becoming more important than ever. It’s vital that we provide the very best support to ensure people living with and beyond cancer in Yorkshire have the very best chance of a long and healthy life. We are very proud to be funding this research and would like to thank all our supporters for making this investment possible.”

The project is part of a £3.6m investment by the charity in research that will improve the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer across Yorkshire and the North East. 

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