New global report and call-to-action on metastatic breast cancer

A new report The Global Status of Advanced/Metastatic Breast Cancer was launched in Ireland yesterday by leading experts and patient advocates (see press release). The report confirms the extent of misconceptions and misunderstandings surrounding the most advanced stage of breast cancer – metastatic breast cancer (MBC) - as well as the level of isolation and helplessness felt by patients. This report is a comprehensive analysis of the global advanced and metastatic breast cancer landscape over the past decade, and was developed by Pfizer and the European School of Oncology with guidance from a global steering committee of multidisciplinary leaders in the metastatic breast cancer community.

To download a copy of the report, please visit www.breastcancervision.com.

Despite advances in the treatment of breast cancer, approximately 30% of women initially diagnosed with earlier stages of breast cancer eventually develop recurrent advanced or metastatic disease.  Average survival is 2-3 years although many women can live for much longer. The report showed that in most countries, a majority optimistically believed that patients who are diagnosed and treated early would not progress to develop metastatic disease and that up to 76% believed that metastatic breast cancer is curable. The report also highlights that progress in metastatic breast cancer has not nearly kept pace with the evolution witnessed in managing early breast cancer.

Prof John Crown, Consultant Medical Oncologist, St. Vincent’s University Hospital, spoke at the launch and said: “While metastatic breast cancer remains a usually incurable disease, most patients are now achieving years of survival. With this expectation of longer life come special challenges. The physical toll of the illness and it treatment is frequently compounded by the psychological effects of loss of independence, change in body image, and an uncertain future. Society needs to recognise the unique needs of these women who will live every remaining day of their lives under the shadow of this serious illness. While newer, less toxic treatments offer the promise of longer and better life, more also needs to be done to provide support for a condition which can be notoriously isolating and indeed stigmatising.”

The goal of the report is to shed light on the challenges and gaps in metastatic breast cancer to inspire change within the breast cancer community and beyond. We at Europa Donna Ireland feel that the report is key reading for anyone concerned with breast cancer.

Tara Byrne of Europa Donna Ireland made a presentation at the launch called ‘Amplifying the Patient Voice in mBC’ which included stories from women living with metastatic breast cancer in Ireland. She stated: “We believe that our role as a patient advocate organisation is to campaign to ensure that specialist breast units address metastatic breast cancer in a coordinated way and that from the time of diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer, patients should be offered appropriate psychosocial and supporting care as routine.”

Europa Donna Ireland has recently secured funding from Pfizer to develop a support network and literature for women living with metastatic breast cancer in Ireland. If you are interested in learning more about this project, please email us on info@europadonnaireland.ie.