Oncology Central

Preventing unnecessary breast cancer treatment: an interview with Jelle Wesseling


Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is a condition that can sometimes develop into breast cancer. Each year it affects more than 6300 women in the UK, and thousands more worldwide. But right now, doctors can’t tell whether women with DCIS will go on to develop breast cancer. This means that, unfortunately, some women with DCIS undergo hospital visits, surgery and even chemotherapy and radiotherapy that they don’t need, while also causing them unnecessary stress and anxiety. Jelle Wesseling from the Netherlands Cancer Institute – Antoni van Leeuwenhoek Hospital (NKI-AVL) and his team of scientists from the UK, Netherlands and the US want to change this, and stop women getting treatment they won’t benefit from.

You recently won the CRUK Grand Challenge competition, designed to answer the biggest questions in cancer research. Can you tell us what winning this competition meant to you and your team?

Winning the Grand Challenge Award funded by Cancer Research UK and KWF Dutch Cancer Society allows us to accomplish our mission which is ultimately to make overtreatment of Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS) a thing of the past in order to save thousands of women annually from the burden of needless treatment. Our initiative ‘PRECISION’ (PREvent ductal Carcinoma In Situ Invasive Overtreatment Now) requires a global-major multidisciplinary investment. Winning the award stimulated me to build a team of the best individuals in the world with the relevant expertise, e.g. surgeons, radiologists, pathologists, molecular biologists etc., to reach our target. The patient representatives in the team play a very central role, they keep us focused on our key goal in a way that will make a difference to women with DCIS.

Would you like insider details on the other CRUK Grand Challenge projects?

Your Grand Challenge project focuses preventing unnecessary breast cancer treatment. Could you give us a brief overview of this project?
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