Europa Donna promotes the advancement of breast cancer research and seeks to ensure that all women understand fully any proposed treatment options, including entry into clinical trials and their right to a second opinion. In accordance with the Brussels Statement from the 2nd EBCC “Randomised clinical trials represent the most effective way of evaluating new therapies but also offer treatment opportunities. Obstacles to the participation for both patients and clinicians should be as low as possible” Europa Donna provides education concerning research developments at all of its educational events, the Pan European Conferences, the annual advocacy training course and the Advocacy Leader Conferences. In addition, Europa Donna has developed a Training Module for Advocates who serve on Trial Committees.
The following booklets have been developed by Europa Donna to promote better understanding of breast cancer research and clinical trials:
- Clinical trials and breast cancer
- Advocates Guide to Understanding Breast Cancer Research
- Exploring the Role of Advocates in Breast Cancer Research
EUROPA DONNA and BIG-Breast International Group
The Breast International Group (BIG) is a non-profit organisation for academic breast cancer research groups from around the world, with its Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. BIG facilitates breast cancer research at international level by stimulating cooperation between its members and other academic networks, and collaborating with, but working independently from, the pharmaceutical industry. Large-scale cooperation is crucial to make significant advances in breast cancer research, reduce wasteful duplication of effort, and optimally serve those affected by the disease.
Founded by leading European opinion leaders in 1996, BIG now constitutes a network of 47 groups based in Europe, Canada, Latin America, Asia and Australasia. These research entities are tied to approximately 3000 specialised hospitals and research centres worldwide. About 30 clinical trials are run or are under development under the BIG umbrella. BIG also works closely with the US National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the North American Breast Cancer Group (NABCG), so that together they act as a strong integrating force in the breast cancer research arena.
International collaboration makes it possible to conduct studies that would not be possible for a single research group or network to carry out on its own, especially as treatments become increasingly targeted. Combining efforts makes it possible to quickly enrol large numbers of patients, or to share data and knowledge and efficiently answer important scientific questions. Faster results mean faster direct benefits to patients.
Europa Donna collaborates with BIG (Breast International Group) on a number of important projects, serving on the BIG Scientific Committee, the Steering Committees of the AURORA study, OLYMPIA and MINDACT trials, and the NABCG working group on Survivorship.
AURORA is an international programme for women with MBC to use molecular screening to help physicians and researchers understand both why breast cancer metastasises and why some patients respond poorly to standard treatment, while others respond very well. Primary and MBC tissue as well as blood specimens are being collected and characterised on a large scale. If a genetic mutation is found, a clinical trial that tests a new treatment designed to target that mutation may be proposed to the patient (if the physician finds it appropriate). If no drug or clinical trial is available for a mutation, or if no mutation is found, the physician will choose the best available standard treatment for the patient. A total of 1,000 women and men from about 80 hospitals in 14 European countries are expected to take part initially.
Objectives of the study:
• Improve the understanding of MBC and its underlying causes
• Determine why some tumors respond poorly to standard treatment while others respond well
• Identify potential predictive biomarkers for response and resistance to commonly applied anticancer agents
AURORA will be the first broadly international programme of its kind to focus on Metastatic Breast Cancer in order to improve our understanding of the disease with the hope to develop individualised cures for the future.
The TRANSBIG consortium was launched in 2004 by BIG to promote international collaboration in translational research. It comprised 28 world-class institutions present in 11 countries and was managed by the BIG Headquarters.
This consortium was dedicated to:
• advancing individualised treatment for breast cancer patients
• integrating, strengthening and facilitating translational breast cancer research in Europe and internationally within the framework BIG
The main project launched by TRANSBIG is the MINDACT trial, Sponsored and coordinated by the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) MINDACT compares a genomic prognostic test (Mammaprint®) developed with micro-array technology to traditional clinical-pathological methods for assessing the risk of breast cancer recurring in women with lymph node negative or 1 to 3 node positive disease. It is expected that this will help physicians and patients make better decisions about who can safely avoid chemotherapy and its potential side effects. Europa Donna sits on the Steering Committee, and previously on the Legal and Ethics Committee and the Spreading of Excellence Committee of the MINDACT trial.