Midlands' leading cancer centre is appealing for volunteers to take part in a new breast cancer study, which could minimise surgery for post-menopausal women.

Researchers from University Hospital Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust and Cancer Research UK's Clinical Trials Unit at Birmingham University are looking to recruit 1,000 patients for the largest study of its kind in Britain. The Neo-Excel study will look at whether giving women oestrogen-lowering tablets can help shrink tumours to allow breast cancer patients to have less surgery. Research shows the treatment has been successful in shrinking cancers before an operation.

Adele Francis, a consultant surgeon at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital who is leading the trial, said: "It is an exciting step forward. As a result of this trial, the drugs are now available to a much larger number of patients.

"This approach is already proven in being effective in shrinking tumours, enabling us to minimise the extent of surgery putting patients through a smaller operation with smaller scars.

"During the 16-week trial period we will run tests on how the cancer is responding and tailor the post operative treatment to each patient."

Investigators will also examine the effect of giving patients oestrogen-lowering tablets in combination with celecoxib, a drug related to asprin.

In order to qualify for the trial women must be newly diagnosed, post-menopausal, with a tumour bigger than 2cm at diagnosis.

Anyone interested in taking part in the study can contact the Neo-Excel Trial Office on 0121 414 3797 or email neoexcel@trials.bham.ac.uk for more information.