EGA Institute for Women's Health



EPIFEMCARE – Blood based tests for the early detection of Breast and Ovarian Cancer


Every year in the EU between 45,300 and 330,000 women are diagnosed with ovarian and breast cancer respectively & 28,800 and 90,000 of these two groups of women will die as a consequence of these diseases. Currently, there are no available tools that allow for optimised screening ovarian and breast cancer with sufficient sensitivity and specificity to avoid potential over-diagnosis, or with which to stratify patients into optimal personalised treatment regimes.

In November 2012 we launched EPIFEMCARE: Epigenetics For Female Personalised Cancer Care. EPIFEMCARE is funded by the EU FP7 programme and is an academic-industrial collaboration that aims to develop new methods for screening, diagnosis and personalised treatment of breast and ovarian cancers. Industrial partners include DNA sequencing and bioinformatics specialists at GATC, Germany and Genedata, Switzerland respectively. University hospitals including UCLH here in London, Ludwig Maximilian University (LMU) in Munich, and Charles University (CU) in Prague, will recruit patients to provide cancer tissue and blood samples in the early stages of the test development. In the latter stages of the programme the established test will be assayed in serum samples from two major trials: The UKCTOCS ovarian cancer screening trial, and the SUCCESS breast cancer treatment trial.

The ultimate goal of the programme is to implement the blood tests to ensure that 50% fewer women will receive a diagnosis of breast or ovarian cancer when that cancer is already advanced, 50% fewer women will receive unnecessary long-term treatment for residual disease, and the rate of female cancer related fatalities and treatment-related illness will be reduced by 20% per year.