iPrevent is a new, web-based tool to help Australian women understand their personal breast cancer risk and act on it.
Peter Mac breast cancer specialist Professor Kelly-Anne Phillips led the creation of the web-based tool which was developed over six years with a multidisciplinary team of experts.
iPrevent gathers information about lifestyle, medical and family history and estimates breast cancer risk for both the next 10 years and the rest of a woman’s life.
A personalised report can then be printed and taken to a doctor for further discussion.
Professor Phillips has looked after women with breast cancer for 20 years and is acutely aware of the impact it has on them and their family and friends.
“Every day I see women newly diagnosed with breast cancer; some of them were clearly at increased risk and might have avoided their breast cancer had they had the opportunity to use a tool like iPrevent,” she explained.
There are many reasons why a woman may be at increased risk of developing breast cancer including genetic and lifestyle factors. These may include having a family history of the disease, carrying certain genetic changes (mutations), taking hormone medications, alcohol use, early first menstrual period, late menopause, obesity and late child bearing.
An international prospective validation study, conducted using data on over 16,000 women, has confirmed the accuracy of the risk estimates provided by iPrevent. It uses Cancer Australia guidelines to determine which risk management options women are advised about, based on their risk level.
An Australian pilot study of women and clinicians has also demonstrated that iPrevent has high usability and acceptability and suggested that it improved knowledge without increasing anxiety.
Focus groups conducted with doctors suggest that GPs will find iPrevent particularly useful for identifying the one per cent of Australian women who are at high risk of breast cancer and who may need onward referral and the four per cent women who are at moderate risk and for whom targeted lifestyle change, intensified breast cancer screening and risk-reducing medication should be considered.
iPrevent was developed by a team of experts including general practitioners, consumers from Breast Cancer Network Australia, geneticists, breast surgeons, medical oncologists, psycho-oncologists, sociologists, epidemiologists and computer scientists.
The development of the tool included a formal needs assessment of all the potential end-user groups, software programming and a software verification study, piloting with women and clinicians, and final revision of the prototype to the current version released for free public use.