Breast cancer patients have for the first time been recruited from China to take part in an international trial of breast radiotherapy.
Researchers will evaluate how effective the treatment is for women who have had a mastectomy.
Radiotherapy works by destroying cancer cells in the treated area. The trial will investigate whether the treatment lessens the risk of the cancer returning in patients who have had a breast removed.
The results of the trial will be highly relevant in China, where breast cancer is becoming a major health care issue, particularly in urban populations.
The trial represents the first time that international breast cancer research has included Chinese patients and opens the door to future collaborations.
Some 3700 breast cancer patients from Europe, Australia, Singapore, Japan and China will take part in the trial, led by the University of Edinburgh.
Chinese patients will be recruited from nine cancer centres across the country and will be randomly assigned one of two possible courses of treatment - one to include standard post-operative care such as outpatient visits and mammogram check-ups, and another, which includes all these treatments plus radiotherapy.
Researchers will be looking for a molecular finger print of each patient's cancer to try and identify patients most likely to benefit from radiotherapy.
Professor Ian Kunkler, from the Edinburgh Cancer Research Centre at the University of Edinburgh, said: "China is experiencing a rapidly rising incidence of breast cancer, particularly in its urban populations. The results of this trial will be applicable to large numbers of people and could demonstrate differences in breast cancer that aren't found elsewhere.
"We also hope that this is just the first in many research collaborations with Chinese cancer centres. We have much to learn about these diseases and by working with on this scale we can get scientific answers more quickly."
The trial is being run in conjunction with the Breast International Group, which facilitates cooperation in large breast cancer trials. It is funded by a one million Hong Kong dollar donation by the W & E Davies Charitable Foundation.
Source: University of Edinburgh
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