Director of Research
Australia and New Zealand Breast Cancer Trials Group
Professor of Surgical Oncology
University of Newcastle
Well-designed randomized clinical trials may provide information about prevention strategies and effective treatments for women at risk of, or diagnosed with, breast cancer. A major limitation of clinical trials, however, is that results apply to the trial group as a whole, but not necessarily to each individual woman, because individual responses are influenced by the patient’s and the tumor’s unique DNA, or genetic profile. The goal of Drs. Forbes’s and Cuzick’s BCRF research is to more precisely identify risks for individual women, who have a very high or very low chance of getting breast cancer based on testing of molecular markers. To do this, they are building a High Risk Breast Bio-Bank (HRBB) to discover new protein and gene biomarkers from blood, tumor tissue and mammograms and conducting large randomized trials to identify biomarkers that can reliably predict outcomes for the prevention and treatment of breast cancer. Their goal is long-term follow-up of individual women to collect reliable clinical outcome data and tissue in prevention and treatment trials to reduce risks for women. In the coming year, the research team will continue follow-up of women on the IBIS-I, IBIS-II and LATER trials to collect biomarker tissues and clinical outcomes long-term. IBIS-I is a primary prevention trial for pre- and postmenopausal women at increased risk of BC testing tamoxifen for chemoprevention. IBIS-II is a similar trial for postmenopausal women testing anastrozole. LATER is a long-term treatment trial testing letrozole for a further five years for women disease free five years after diagnosis. They will continue tissue collection for the HRBB and analyses of clinical outcome data and biomarkers to improve prediction of risks for the trial population.
John Forbes is Professor of Surgical Oncology, University of Newcastle (Australia); Director, Department of Surgical Oncology, Calvary Mater Newcastle Hospital; and Director of Research, Australia and New Zealand Breast Cancer Trials Group. His breast cancer research encompasses national and international clinical trials to develop new treatments and prevention strategies. He graduated in Medicine at the University of Melbourne and completed his surgical training at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, and studied further at the Welsh National Medical School, Cardiff, Wales. On his return to Australia, he and colleagues established the Australia and New Zealand Breast Cancer Trials Group, and the International Breast Cancer Study Group, formerly known as the Ludwig Breast Cancer Study Group, and he was a founding member of the Breast International Group. He has presented papers at scientific meetings internationally, and published over 250 papers on many aspects of breast cancer – in particular on prevention, biomarkers and endocrine treatment. He Chairs, Co-chairs, or is a Member of Steering Committees for national and international breast cancer clinical trials, and is a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons and the Royal College of Surgeons of England. In 2012 he was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia (AM), being recognized for service to medicine in the field of breast cancer research, to the development of improved clinical practice standards and service to the community. He was recognized as one of the world’s leading scientific researchers on Thomson Reuters’ list of "The World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds – 2014."