Healthcare: On the Agenda - Study redefines breast cancer

In a nutshell

A study variously described as 'landmark' and a research 'holy grail' has uncovered the triggers for breast cancer, showing that it springs from ten separate diseases. The journal Nature's findings could pave the way for a vastly refined system of treatment, where drugs are matched to specific cancers.

About the research

The study, conducted by Cambridge Research Institute, analysed tumours from 2,000 women in the UK and Canada. In what was dubbed a completely new way of looking at cancer, researchers uncovered what was happening in the tumours on a genetic level and grouped their results into ten categories.

PR strategy

Cancer Research UK, which co-funded the research, held a press conference at which its chief executive Dr Harpal Kumar spoke alongside lead researcher professor Carlos Caldas. The pair were also filmed, with the resulting video picked up by social media channels and Canadian press, while both men were put forward for interview. Patient case studies were made available, as were the video, a Q&A section and a blog.

Media coverage

Around 400 pieces of coverage were generated online. These included front pages of The Daily Telegraph, Metro, The Independent and pieces inside all other major national papers, as well as BBC broadcast coverage, items on Channel 4, ITV, Sky, Reuters and international media.

1,000 - Number of UK women who die of breast cancer per month*

50% - Rise in diagnoses in Britain in the past 30 years*.

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