Breast Cancer Treatment | Research into Drug Treatments and Chemotherapy

Improving treatment


After diagnosis, breast cancer patients are offered a range of treatments to remove or destroy their cancer and stop it coming back. As each person’s breast cancer is different, the breast care team and laboratory staff will carry out tests to see exactly which therapies and drugs will be most appropriate.

Find out more about breast cancer treatment.

Our ambition

By 2025, we hope improved and more personalised treatments for breast cancer will reduce mortality from breast cancer by half.

Where we are now

Our 2013 Gap Analysis identified that we still need to find out a lot more if we are to increasingly personalise treatments and their side effects.

Research is needed to see whether imaging can help predict a patient’s response to treatment and identify resistant disease earlier.

The gold standard sequence of common treatments is not clear to clinicians, so we need basic trials of old and new drugs.

For all the subtypes of breast cancer, we need to uncover biomarkers present in the tumour or blood that reliably indicate how a patient is likely to respond to particular treatments. This will help tailor the type of intensity of treatments.

We need to identify which patients could be spared some standard treatments that may give little benefit to the individual patient and have potential side effects. This could apply to radiotherapy, drug therapy and even surgery in some patients.

We need to understand how and why breast cancers can change over time, and this might explain why some become resistant to treatment. We need to collect sequential tumour samples on a large scale to understand this and make better decisions about treatment.

Our research

So far, we have invested £13.5 million in projects investigating treatments.

We will:

  • Aim to increase our investment in research and campaigning to £15 million to ensure we're at the forefront of tackling gaps in treatment research. We will specifically encourage and fund research into gaps in biomarker analysis and research to improve radiotherapy and surgical treatments.
  • Create a clinical development grant funding stream for researchers to translate new and promising therapeutic or diagnostic discoveries.
  • Fund pioneering work into how to: predict responses to treatment, how to harness the immune system to specifically destroy breast cancer cells, understand how cancer stem cells contribute to cancers returning and treatment resistance, and how to reduce the risk of side effects as a result of some chemotherapy treatments.