A NORTHWICH bakery is teaming up with a cancer charity to help raise money to fight the disease.

Lindsay Occleston, one of the Roberts family of bakers, and Genesis Breast Cancer Prevention have launched the campaign this week to help raise money towards specialist gene research that could lead to major changes in the UK breast screening service.

The 12-month campaign is being led by Lindsay and Professor Gareth Evans, professor of clinical genetics at Wythenshawe-based Genesis, which is the UK’s only charity entirely dedicated to the prediction and prevention of breast cancer.

As part of the initiative, Roberts will carry dedicated pink packaging and messaging across five million wholemeal loaves aimed at raising £50,000 to help fund ground-breaking gene-based research, which will identify each woman’s individual risk of developing breast cancer for the first time.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK, with around 50,000 people being diagnosed every year. National statistics show that if current trends continue, the number of people battling the disease could increase by 12 per cent over the next 10 years.

Professor Evans’ research will look at 94 gene fragment variations – called SNPs – to highlight which ones can increase the risk of breast cancer.

“While family history accounts for five to 10 per cent of breast cancer cases, we know that other genetic elements play a role in the development of the disease among the general population," he said.

"Therefore, this research will help us to identify which gene fragments have the potential to increase each woman’s individual risk."

Professor Evans added: “Gene research is an essential part of predicting breast cancer. Changes to the breast screening process will play a key role in identifying those with a high risk, and ultimately, could prevent the disease.

“We’re currently working closely with the NHS to monitor outcomes of this latest research project and hopefully personalise the screening programme for future generations.”

Family director Lindsay said: “Thankfully I survived breast cancer and got the chance to change my diet and lifestyle and think about factors that could increase my risk. However, not all women are as lucky.

“This pioneering research at Genesis will potentially let women know whether they are likely to get breast cancer and offer them ways of actually preventing it. For my generation of women, their daughters and future generations, it is an amazing prospect.”

Lester Barr, chairman of Genesis Breast Cancer Prevention, said: “This is an incredibly exciting time for Genesis, as we take serious steps towards identifying which women have a high risk of developing breast cancer.

“Our researchers work tirelessly to find ways to predict and prevent the disease, and we’re thrilled to have Roberts on board for this project. We’re confident that their support will help us reach our ultimate goal of creating a breast cancer free future for all.”