Widnes woman first person in Europe to trial new breast cancer drug

News story posted 6 March 2024

Siobhain Howard is the first person in Europe to trial a new type of hormone therapy to prevent her breast cancer from coming back.

39-year-old Siobhain, who is originally from County Meath in Ireland, but now lives in Widnes with her husband, was diagnosed with cancer after finding a lump while she was putting on self-tan.

She had surgery to remove the lump at her local hospital and then was referred to The Christie at Oldham for 6 rounds of chemotherapy, as well as radiotherapy.

Her treatment was successful, but as Siobhain’s cancer is sensitive to oestrogen – meaning that the hormone causes cancer cells to grow – she needed to go on hormone therapy to prevent it from coming back.

These types of drugs work by either lowering the level of hormones in the body or by blocking them from getting to breast cancer cells.

Current options such as Tamoxifen are highly effective, reducing the risk of recurrence by around 40%, but researchers are looking into whether the new drug that Siobhain is taking could potentially be even more effective.

The study will last for 14 years with up to 5,500 people taking part across the world. Siobhan will be on the drug for 7 years.

A headshot photo of Siobhain Howard, a Christie patient.

“Being diagnosed with cancer in my 30s was a massive shock. I decided to put my name forward for the trial as I’ve benefitted from cancer research in terms of the treatment I’ve had, and I wanted to help other people like me in the future.

“The team at The Christie have all been wonderful. One of my nurses, Hannah, was particularly lovely. She was always there with a smile on her face, and that made a difference.”

“Advances in breast cancer research have meant that more and more women are living well with and beyond cancer,” comments Dr Sacha Howell, Siobhain’s consultant. “It’s great that Siobhan is sharing her story to raise awareness of the trial and the importance of research in general.

“In addition to providing treatment and care, The Christie is a leading cancer research centre. We were the first site in the world to trial Tamoxifen – an existing hormone therapy for breast cancer – in the 1970s and we are proud to be one of the first places in the world to trial a newer generation of treatment.”

Any patients interested in taking part in clinical trials should discuss this option with their consultant or GP. Not all patients will fit the criteria for a specific trial. While clinical trials can be successful for some patients, outcomes can vary from case to case. More information about taking part in clinical trials can be found on our taking part in studies and trials page.

Last updated: March 2024