The Foundation and Its History

The NSABP Foundation is a not-for-profit academic research organization with a nearly 60-year history of conducting ground-breaking research studies in breast and colorectal cancer. Our goal is to improve outcomes for cancer patients via improved therapeutic and prevention modalities. Over the past 15 years we have established full-service capabilities to conduct independently funded international research with the private sector to evaluate promising new agents and now offer a wide range of capabilities, from pre-clinical research through phase III clinical trials focused on biomarker-driven studies.We continue to maintain a close working relationship with NCI initiatives as a founding member of NRG Oncology.

The NSABP Foundation is an outgrowth of the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project, instituted in 1958 as part of the National Cancer Institute's clinical trials program. Our founder, Bernard Fisher, MD, was one of the first cancer researchers to realize the value of the randomized clinical trial in answering questions about the development, progression, and treatment of this disease.From the time of the NSABP's first studies, the randomized trial has been our primary research tool, and over the years we have an established record of designing and conducting clinical trials that have changed the way breast cancer is treated and prevented.

In its history the NSABP has enrolled more than 110,000 women and men in clinical trials in breast and colorectal cancer. We have research sites at nearly 700 major medical centers, university hospitals, large oncology practice groups, and health maintenance organizations in the United States, Canada, and Ireland. At those sites and their satellites, about 5000 physicians, nurses, and other medical professionals conduct NSABP treatment and prevention trials.

Some of our past accomplishments include the following:

  • It was the NSABP's breast cancer studies that led to the establishment of lumpectomy plus radiation over radical mastectomy as the standard surgical treatment for that disease.
  • We were first to demonstrate that adjuvant therapy could alter the natural history of breast cancer, increasing survival rates.
  • We were also one of the first organizations to undertake large-scale studies in the prevention of breast cancer.  Our Breast Cancer Prevention Trial, which included more than 13,000 women at increased risk for breast cancer, demonstrated the value of the drug tamoxifen in reducing the incidence of the disease in this population.  Our second prevention trial, the Study of Tamoxifen and Raloxifene (STAR), entered more than 19,000 women and resulted in the drug raloxifene's being considered an alternative drug to tamoxifen for the prevention of breast cancer.
  • For women with HER2-positive breast cancer, the NSABP's B-31 trial demonstrated an overall survival benefit in patients who were administered Herceptin (trastuzumab) and led to the FDA's approval of that drug.
  • In collaboration with industry, the NSABP developed the 21-Gene Recurrence Score assay, Oncotype DX, which is being used in node-negative, estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer patients to more precisely identify patients with an excellent prognosis whose cancers can be treated with hormonal therapies alone and those whose cancers require more aggressive treatment with chemotherapy.  Work continues to refine this test.

The NSABP Foundation, located at Nova Place in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, carries on the legacy of the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project in clinical studies done in partnership with industry.