Medicine (St Vincent's) - Theses

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    Breast cancer risk assessment and risk management:: Development of a personalised, web- based, decision support tool (iPrevent®)
    Collins, Ian ( 2016)
    Breast cancer risk is a complex interaction of environmental factors, inheritance and genetics. Awareness of her personal breast cancer risk can allow a woman to make informed decisions regarding the management of her risk, through screening or risk reduction measures such as surgery or medication. The effect of risk factors, both inherited and modifiable, on breast cancer risk is complex but mathematical models exist to estimate an individual’s risk. These models use epidemiological data to quantify the risk for an individual, based on a range of their risk factors. As these models were developed primarily for research purposes, they are not designed for ease-of-use by a range of clinicians, nor designed to be used by those unfamiliar with estimating breast cancer risk. Once estimated, a woman’s breast cancer risk must then be explained in a way that is comprehensible to the woman, together with ways to manage that risk in a similar format. If this were achieved for all women, it may allow them to make informed choices and potentially even prevent breast cancer or reduce its impact greatly. The ultimate aim of this research was to develop a user-friendly computerised, web-based breast cancer risk assessment and risk management support tool. This tool, called iPrevent©, uses the existing mathematical models to estimate individualised breast cancer risk, but using a user friendly interface. It then goes further, and provides Cancer Australia guideline-based recommendations, based on that risk, for each individual woman. It presents the risks and befits of each evidence-based intervention in a similar manner to the risk so that women can make an informed choice regarding their breast cancer prevention strategy. Before developing iPrevent©, I first examined the other possible effects of being a carrier of a mutation in breast cancer predisposition genes, as it was hypothesised that other factors such as fertility effects, could have a large bearing on any future decisions women may make, including risk reducing surgery. I then explored current behaviours to reduce risk among women at highest risk, in an attempt to understand the magnitude of the possible benefits of iPrevent© in this highest risk group. Through focus group studies, I examined the information needs of clinicians to facilitate breast cancer risk discussions. Understanding the needs of end-user clinicians of iPrevent© ensures it could meet their needs. This usability may increase uptake and use, of both the tool and breast cancer risk management strategies where appropriate. This tool, iPrevent©, is currently undergoing clinical validation studies, outside the scope of this thesis, but will shortly become freely available with the aim of increasing individual awareness of each woman’s own breast cancer risk, enabling her to manage that risk according to the evidence, Cancer Australia guidelines and her own preferences.