What is UPA?

UPA, or ulipristal acetate, is a safe drug that changes the way your body responds to progesterone, a sex hormone that is made when you ovulate and can cause your breast cells to divide. It is currently FDA approved to be used as an emergency contraceptive at 30mg. In Europe, it is approved as a treatment for uterine fibroids at 5mg. We will investigate UPA a 10mg dose, which past studies tell us is safe and well-tolerated.

Ok...but what does UPA have to do with breast cancer?

Because UPA blocks progesterone, we wonder if UPA might prevent breast cells from multiplying. If so, then it might prevent breast cancer from developing over time. We have drugs now that prevent breast cancer - tamoxifen and raloxifene. But these drugs have side effects that keep many women from using them. We are looking for the next generation breast cancer prevention medication.

UPA Breast Study

A research study by Columbia University Medical Center in collaboration with Weill Cornell Medical Center.

Principal Investigator:
Carolyn Westhoff MD, MSc

Funded by the National Cancer Institute

Columbia University Medical Center
Weill Cornell Medicine

what are we investigating?

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Can UPA decrease breast cell proliferation?
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Can MRI replace breast biopsy in future study of proliferation?
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Can UPA one day be developed as a daily birth control pill that prevents breast cancer?
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How do the effects of UPA compare to those of the traditional birth control pill?

study design

Total study duration: 4.5 months

Phase One
  1. A screening visit (1.5 hours)
  2. Up to 8 blood draw visits during your first month (15 min each)
  3. Phase one ends with an MRI scan of your breasts and a breast biopsy (3 to 4 hours)
Phase Two
  1. You will take either a traditional birth control pill or a daily UPA pill for 3 months
  2. 5 study visits during the first two months and 7 visits in the last month (15 minutes each)
  3. A daily text message will ask you what time you took your pill each day
  4. Phase two ends with an MRI scan of your breasts and a breast biopsy (3 to 4 hours)

You will receive modest compensation for all travel, time, and effort.

Am I right for this study?

Are you...

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A woman aged 18 - 39?

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In good health with no breast cancer or previous breast surgeries

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Willing to prevent becoming pregnant during the study?

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Able to flexibly schedule frequent study visits?

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Willing to have 2 breast MRIs and biopsies?

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Currently not enrolled in other clinical research studies?

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Not currently using hormonal birth control?

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Not claustrophobic?

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Not currently pregnant?


Women with high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney disease, liver disease, heart disease, or a history of blood clots will not be able to participate in the study.

Get Involved and give us a call!

Note: the two MRI visits will occur at Columbia regardless of your routine visit location

Columbia University Irving Medical Center - Washington Heights

622 W. 168th St.
New York, NY 10032
[email protected]
(212) 305-0947

Weill Cornell Medical Center - Upper East Side

525 E. 68th St.
New York, NY 10065
[email protected]
(646) 962-8313