On the pulse 18 December 2014

  • Thank you
  • Cancerkin Christmas Opening Hours
  • Study shows that taking tamoxifen could have a preventative effect against breast cancer for 20 years 

Thank you
This issue of ‘On the pulse’ is the last of 2014 and so we would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has helped support us in the past year.

First, to our supporters. In the past year, you walked, ran, cut off your hair, organised events, came to our theatre evening, made donations and much, much more to ensure we could continue to offer the best possible support to those diagnosed with breast cancer. Thank you.

We would also like to thank the trusts and foundations who fund our various programmes and services. Their contributions over the past year have enabled us to offer 12 different complementary therapies and group classes at the Cancerkin Centre (and a further three in East London) alongside support groups and treatments at our Lymphoedema Clinic.

Thank you to the consultants and breast care nurses at the Royal Free Hospital who ensure all patients know how to access our services. We would also like to thank the Royal Free Hospital for the support it gives us.

In East London, we would like to thank St Barts Hospital, Homerton University Hospital and Newham University Hospital, who ensure that all who want our support can access it. Thank you also to St Joseph’s Hospice, Bromley-by-Bow Health Centre, St Peter’s Church and the Given-Wilson Institute for hosting our complementary therapy sessions.

Finally, we would like to thank our patients, who bring us so much warmth and joy. Thank you.

Cancerkin Christmas Opening Hours
The Cancerkin Centre will be closed from Monday 22 December 20134 until Friday 2 January 2015 (inclusive). We will be back in full swing for the New Year from Monday 5 January 2015.

Study shows that taking tamoxifen could have a preventative effect against breast cancer for 20 years 
Research published the Lancet Oncology has found that taking tamoxifen for five years has a preventative effect for 20 years,  reducing breast cancer rates by approximately 30%.

Last year, the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) updated their guidance on the care of women who are at increased risk of developing breast cancer. This included recommending taking tamoxifen or raloxifene as a preventative measure to a specific group of women who are at high risk of breast cancer and have not had the disease. This recent study has suggested the preventative effect of tamoxifen lasts for longer than was previously thought.

The study involved over 7,000 women, between 35 and 70 years of age, and all at a high risk of developing breast cancer. Half the women received a 20mg daily dose of tamoxifen for five years – the period of time NICE recommends preventative tamoxifen should be taken for – whilst the other participants received a placebo for the same period. After completing treatment, their health was monitored for an average of 16 years.

In total, 251 women who had taken tamoxifen developed breast cancer, compared to 350 women in the placebo group: a 29% reduction in breast cancer rates for the group of women who had taken tamoxifen. Furthermore, the rates of oestrogen receptor (ER) positive breast cancer – which accounts for two thirds of all breast cancer cases – were reduced by 35% for the group of women who had received tamoxifen.

The researchers therefore reported that the estimated risk of developing breast cancer was 8% in the tamoxifen group, compared to 12% in the placebo group. This equates to 22 women being treated with tamoxifen for every breast cancer case prevented after 20 years.

The reduced incidence of breast cancer did not, however, lead to fewer breast cancer deaths, with 31 women in the tamoxifen group dying of breast cancer compared to 26 women in the placebo group.

One of the side effects of taking tamoxifen is increased risk of developing endometrial cancer. The study found that while the endometrial cancer cases were 3.8 times more common in the tamoxifen group during the 5 years of treatment, there was no increased risk in the follow-up period.

Professor Jack Cuzick, lead author of the paper, said: “Tamoxifen is a well-established and effective treatment for certain breast cancers, but we now have evidence of its very long-term preventive benefits. The preventive effect of tamoxifen is highly significant with a reduction in breast cancer rates of around a third, and this impact has remained strong and unabated for 20 years. We hope these results will stimulate more women, particularly younger women, to consider treatment options for breast cancer prevention if they have a family history of the disease or other major risk factors.”

Dr Julie Sharp, head of health information at Cancer Research UK, said: “This… confirms that tamoxifen has a long-lasting effect in reducing cases of breast cancer in women at high risk of the disease. All these drugs have side effects so it’s important that women at high risk of breast cancer talk through their choices with their doctor to work out the best option for them.”

For more information, please see the Guardian or Cancer Research UK.

On the pulse 11 December 2014

  • Book and Christmas gift sale Tuesday 16 December 2014
  • Studies suggest genetic testing of all Ashkenazi Jewish women for faulty BRCA genes could save lives and money

Last-minute Christmas shopping woes? Visit our book sale and Christmas gift sale Tuesday 16 December 2014
Due to the incredible generosity of our supporters, we still have books, make up and assorted gifts remaining from our tombola and book stall, which was held last week. We have therefore decided to have a second stall, which will take place on Tuesday 16 December 2014, from 10am to 3pm.

There will be an incredibly wide range of books on offer – from classics and crime to chick lit and restaurant guides – so do stop by and have a browse. All of the books are in good condition and are being sold at very good prices (with all the money going directly to Cancerkin) so it’s perfect for last-minute Christmas shopping!

The stall will be located by the volunteers help desk on the ground floor of the Royal Free Hospital (enter the hospital through the main entrance and follow the corridor past the Atrium and WHSmith). For more information, please call us on 0207 830 2323.

Studies suggest genetic testing of all Ashkenazi Jewish women for faulty BRCA genes could save lives and money
Two studies published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute have suggested that wider testing for faulty BRCA genes in women of Ashkenazi Jewish descent could save both lives and money.

A woman’s lifetime risk of developing breast cancer is approximately 12%. However, having a fault in either BRCA gene raises an individual’s risk to between 50% and 85%, as well as increasing her risk of developing ovarian cancer. Whilst faulty BRCA genes only affect approximately one in 800 people in the general population (0.125%), up to one in 40 (2.5%) people of Ashkenazi Jewish descent carry a mutated BRCA gene.

Currently, women with a strong family history of breast and/or ovarian cancer can undergo genetic testing to find out if they have inherited a faulty gene. However, women are referred to a specialist genetics service only if they meet stringent family history criteria.

The researchers, based at University College London and the University of Manchester, therefore conducted a study to compare the effectiveness of screening all Ashkenazi Jewish women with screening just those who were identified as being at risk because of their family history.

Over 1,000 women of Ashkenazi Jewish descent took part in the study. Half the participants were assigned to the population screening group and all received genetic testing. The other participants were assigned to the family history group and underwent genetic testing only if they met the current family history criteria. From this, the scientists found that 56% of women carrying a BRCA mutation were not identified by the existing family history criteria but were identified by population screening.

A separate analysis was then carried out to predict the impact and cost-effectiveness of screening all women of Ashkenazi descent in the UK. There are 114,400 Ashkenazi Jewish women in the UK: screening all of those over the age of 30 was estimated to reduce breast cancer cases by 508 and ovarian cancer cases by 276, at a saving of £3.7 million.

Professor Ian Jacobs, one of the researchers at the University of Manchester, told the BBC: “This can save lives and money, why wouldn’t the NHS want to do something that could achieve both objectives?

“But the NHS does need to do its own proper evaluation.”

The full studies can be read here and here. For more information, please see BBC Online.

Cancerkin’s East London Newsletter, December 2014

Festive greetings to all of our supporters and welcome to the second edition of our East London newsletter.

Cancerkin reaches out to East London clinicians

On November 10th the East London manager, Xanthe, represented Cancerkin at the London Cancer Breast Cancer Education Event. Clinicians were very receptive to the services we offer to patients and were keen to hear more. We made connections with surgeons, breast care nurses and radiographers working in East London and hope to see an increase in our patient numbers as a result. We are most grateful to Sophie Lansdowne from London Cancer for organising the event and granting us a table and to the Royal College of Physicians for hosting such a engaging event.

Cancerkin continues to spread breast awareness in East London

In November, we thoroughly enjoyed giving a breast awareness talk to the women of St Hilda’s East’s Bondhon Project, not least because of the delicious samosas that they kindly shared with us. Based at St Hilda’s East Community Centre, the Bondhon Project welcomes Bangladeshi women in Tower Hamlets who are experiencing mental health issues. We learned a lot about the challenges which face the Bangladeshi community in East London. It was a pleasure for us to partner with such an empowering project to give them crucial information on how to check their breasts for the signs and symptoms of breast cancer. Many thanks to Sultana Begum for hosting and translating for us.

Our Awareness Ambassador, Jay Singh, organised an awareness event at Manor Park Community Centre. Jay gave an interesting and informative talk to Manor Park’s Caribbean Pensioners group and his presentation was well received by the entire audience. It was good to see so many men in the audience who were interested in breast cancer and who understood the importance of being breast aware. A big thank you to Mr Mangal for inviting us to the group and for being so welcoming to our East London team.


We held an awareness stall in the Health Spot at Hackney Central Library on December 5. This was a successful event; we reached a range of different people and dispelled some common breast cancer myths. The Health Spot is a source of information on health and wellbeing and aims to help people change their lives. Many thanks to Adrian Morris and the library team for hosting us.

Coping with chemotherapy workshop

We would like to thank Dr Ruth Weiner for inviting us to raise awareness of our services at the NHS Coping with Chemotherapy workshop at Vicarage Lane Health Centre, Stratford. The workshop helps people going through chemotherapy by connecting them with others undergoing treatment and providing advice on managing the side effects. We would highly recommend it to all of our Newham patients who are going through or have been through chemotherapy. To book your place, please call Vicarage Lane Centre directly on 0208 536 2161.

Complementary therapy sessions

Please see below the 2015 timetable for Cancerkin’s complementary therapy sessions. We visit each of our four East London venues once a month. For more information or to book an appointment, call the East London team directly on 0207 830 2310 or email eastldn@cancerkin.org.uk.

St Joseph’s Hospice
 Mare Street, London,   E8 4SA


St Peter’s Church
De Beauvoir Town

Northchurch Terrace,   N1 5AT, 10.00-16.30pm

 St Leonard’s Street, London, E3 3BT


The Given-Wilson Institute, St Mary’s Road, E13 9AE


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