October: Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Intro text: 


Today a woman’s chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer is still 1 in 8. Of course there has been progress in breast cancer research. Over the last 30 years, and thanks to improvements in early detection and better treatment, mortality rates have declined. Did you know that the 5 year-survival rate of breast cancer patients improved from 50% in 1986 to 90% today? However, despite this substantial progress, some types of breast cancer are still associated with very poor prognosis, and effective, economical treatments are lacking. As October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, what better occasion is there to present you the Breast International Group (BIG) network and some of our patient-centred clinical trials?

"BIG's vision is to find a cure for breast cancer through global research and collaboration"

What is BIG?

BIG is an international not-for-profit organisation for academic breast cancer research groups from around the world, with its headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. BIG facilitates and accelerates international breast cancer research by stimulating cooperation between its members and other academic networks, and collaborating with, but working independently from, the pharmaceutical/ biotech industry.

  • Research cannot be successful without collaboration, and BIG is all about collaboration.
  • 56 cancer research groups, over 50 countries, over 3000 hospitals and 10 000 cancer specialists.
  • Working together towards one goal: to cure breast cancer.


BIG's research

BIG, through its 56 member groups and global partnerships, represents the largest global network of academic research groups dedicated to finding cures for breast cancer. It has the ability to achieve truly meaningful results.  By quickly enrolling large numbers of patients into high quality clinical trials asking the right questions and conducted according to specific research principles, BIG’s work leads to greater benefit for more patients around the world.

BIG’s research aims to answer questions that can have a major impact on patients’ lives, and on society; for example:
• How can we identify which treatments are best suited to an individual patient? 
• How does metastatic breast cancer evolve and how can we stop it? 
• Which patients can be spared chemotherapy and its side effects? 
• What about radiotherapy – can some patients safely be spared this treatment as well? 
• What is the best way to treat male breast cancer? 
• How should we handle breast cancer and pregnancy? 
• Should treatments be given in combination or sequentially, and for what period of time? 
• Can less costly drugs offer effective treatment for certain patients? 
•  Can we use the body's own immune system to help fight the disease?

"BIG's research aims to answer questions that can have a major impact on patients' lives"

BIG is a well-organised structure, and, thanks to the joint expertise, ressources and global rearch of its member groups, it has the ability to take care of the many groups of patients who, because of their situation, or the rarity or advanced form of their disease, are often excluded from studies or are still not treated in an optimal way.

About 30 clinical trials are currently run under the umbrella of the BIG network. Many BIG trials are considered to be landmark, introducing particularly innovative designs, contributing to significant breakthroughs, or paving the way towards more personalised treatment of the disease. In the coming weeks we will try to give you a peek at some of BIG's activities...