For more than 15 years BIG has been conducting international clinical trials and research programmes to find better treatments against breast cancer.
The key goals of BIG are to:
Offer the best possible treatments to each individual patient
Understand the genetic mechanisms of breast cancer
Identify how to stop and cure the disease
Although great progress has been made, cancer incidence continues to grow. Today, a woman’s chance of getting breast cancer is 1 in 8. Breast cancer still causes 522.000 deaths annually in the world.
Global research is crucial to find and assess new effective and targeted treatments. Indeed, to test new treatments with enough patients and be confident about the results, clinical research cannot be limited to one institution or one country. Global research increases our chances for cure.
Thanks to its 56 academic research member groups linked to more than 3.000 hospitals, BIG brings together the world’s leading breast specialists to combine resources and multi-disciplinary expertise. This collaboration is critical to reduce unnecessary duplication of effort and generate quicker results.
BIG is known for its large adjuvant trials of chemo-, hormone- and biological therapies for patients with early breast cancer who are thought to benefit from additional (adjuvant) treatment with drugs after surgery. Enrolling 10s of 1000s of patients worldwide, many BIG studies are considered to be landmark, practice-changing for physicians and life-changing for patients.
In 2013 BIG directed its efforts towards research in advanced (metastatic) breast cancer, as well as rarer forms of the disease, for example those driven by BRCA gene mutations. With little or inconclusive data available about optimal treatment options in such cases, it is difficult for physicians to choose the best treatment path for individual patients.
By using the latest technologies available, such as next generation sequencing for molecular screening, BIG aims to better understand the mechanisms driving cancer development, and increase our chances of identifying how to stop the disease. BIG’s innovative AURORA programme, an entirely academic initiative dedicated to patients with metastatic disease, was launched in this spirit.
Many studies run by the BIG network ask questions with no commercial interest, but for which answers could lead to significant improvements for patients and society. When is it safe to give a short duration of treatment with an expensive drug? Which patients really need to be subjected to radiotherapy? How can young women with breast cancer still fulfill a wish to have children?
BIG follows strict principles of research conduct that aim to eliminate bias from the research process and to maintain integrity vis-à-vis patients. This is the case both when BIG partners with pharmaceutical companies and when BIG works alone. BIG ensures that data collected are handled and analysed independently. Moreover, all BIG studies are governed by committees and policies embodying scientific independence and designed to safeguard patient interests at every step of the way.
BIG is known for its large adjuvant trials of chemo-, hormone- and biological therapies for early breast cancer. These studies have involved as many as 946 hospitals from over 25 BIG collaborative groups covering 44 countries at a time. Many of these studies have been practice-changing, including the trials that helped put aromatase inhibitors on the map or that led to major breakthroughs for HER2-positive breast cancer.