Monday 22 July 2024
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Nottingham company uses AI to pinpoint breast cancer risk in young women

Artificial intelligence (AI) is being used by a Nottingham company to help women identify their own risk of developing breast cancer.

MyBOOBRisk has created a pioneering online breast cancer risk web application which offers women between the ages of 20 and 53 a safe and reliable determination of their breast cancer risk in strict adherence to National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines.

Launched during breast cancer awareness month, it will inevitably revolutionise the way that breast cancer risk is calculated for younger women who are not eligible routinely for NHS breast screening.

“Early diagnosis is the holy grail of breast cancer treatment,” explained chief executive officer at MyBOOBRisk Robert Darbyshire, who has been working with a team of experts on the development of medical device software in the field of breast cancer for the past ten years.

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“MyBOOBRisk uses clinically validated state-of-the-art statistical modelling, computational analysis, and AI, incorporating the major risk factors and additional influences that can affect a woman’s chance of developing breast cancer at an early age.

“Identifying high-risk women under the eligible age of NHS breast screening will significantly improve their chances of survival should they subsequently be diagnosed with breast cancer. We hope that MyBOOBRisk will raise awareness amongst younger women of the importance of knowing your breast cancer risk and ultimately save lives in the future.”

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK. One in seven UK women will be diagnosed with the disease in their lifetime.

In the UK, under the NHS Breast Screening Programme, eligible women will usually receive their first routine invitation for breast cancer screening between the ages of 50 and 53, and then will normally be invited every three years until they are 70 or 71. However, around 20% of all breast cancers are diagnosed in women under the age of 50.

“Moreover, mammography is a much less effective screening tool for younger women, who are more likely to have dense breast tissue, compromising the efficiency of routine mammograms in this age group, even if they were available,” added Robert, who is extremely excited to finally bring this technology to the public.

MyBOOBRisk is a set of proprietary AI algorithms built on an underlying clinically approved Cancer Research Horizons, a wholly owned subsidiary of Cancer Research UK, model that has been supplemented with an extensive set of new model parameters and epidemiological risk factors. The more women that use MyBOOBRisk, the more accurate the risk model will become in the future.

“We know that some women have a higher risk of developing breast cancer because other members of their family have had ovarian or breast cancer,” explained Robert.

“Having a parent, sibling, or offspring diagnosed with breast cancer can greatly increase an individual’s risk of developing the disease. This risk is even higher when close relatives have, or develop, breast cancer under the age of 50. Occasionally, families have a faulty gene e.g., BReast CAncer (BRCA) 1 and 2, which may be passed down from generation to generation or start in the most immediate of family members, including the individual.

“Certain factors increase the risk of breast cancer too, including increasing age, harmful use of alcohol, early radiation exposure, reproduction (e.g., the age at which menstrual periods begin and age at first live pregnancy), smoking, oral contraceptive use, and hormone replacement therapy.

“MyBOOBRisk is a detailed questionnaire-based profiler covering topics such as general and personal information, medical conditions, family history, and genetic preconditioning, which subsequently calculates a ten-year and lifetime risk of developing breast cancer. This allows the identification of average, moderate, and high-risk women in strict adherence to the NICE guidelines. Individual BRCA1, 2 mutation carrier probabilities are also calculated to ascertain the likelihood of a gene mutation.”

In a recent pilot study, MyBOOBRisk identified six high-risk women with an average age of 36.

When a woman is identified as high risk by MyBOOBRisk, a detailed summary report is generated highlighting the reasons why, which can be shared with her GP. Under NICE guidelines, it is recommended that high risk women are referred for further consultation. This may include monitoring in primary care only, a referral to secondary care, e.g., a specialist breast cancer clinic, or genetic services at an approved laboratory.

Robert, who has a background in sales with experience in opening countless commercial opportunities with blue-chip companies across many industries, said: “We have been working on technology around breast cancer for quite some time now. We have secured validation with Cancer Research Horizons, a wholly owned subsidiary of Cancer Research UK, under a Licence Agreement and website content approval with NICE with regards to care pathways and treatment strategies for the early diagnosis of breast cancer. Our web application, MyBOOBRisk, is the only UK Conformity Assessed (UKCA), medical device approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) on the UK market.

“Our mission is to save the lives of young women by encouraging them to manage their individual breast health until they are eligible for screening in their early 50s.”

MyBOOBRisk is available at The annual fee, at an introductory offer of £29, includes an online in-depth risk profile as well as your risk level and a lifestyle action plan. In addition, a detailed summary report is provided with a breakdown of the reasons for the risk level, where appropriate, in strict accordance with NICE guidelines. Corporate packages are also available for companies wishing to provide MyBOOBRisk as a staff benefit.

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