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A new survey finds 22-42% of Europeans believe women with advanced breast cancer should keep their disease a secret

Findings from the Global Status of Metastatic Breast Cancer (mBC): A 2005 – 2015 Decade Report, were presented today at the 10th European Breast Cancer Conference (EBCC) in Amsterdam by Fatima Cardoso, MD, director, Breast Unit at Champalimaud Clinical Center in Lisbon. The report confirms the extent of misconceptions and misunderstandings surrounding the most advanced and incurable stage of breast cancer – metastatic breast cancer (mBC) – as well as the level of isolation and helplessness felt by patients.1

The report highlights the extent of the social stigma associated with incurable breast cancer. 22-42% people across five European countries (France 22%, UK 24%, Germany 27%, Poland 33%, Turkey 42%2) feel that patients with metastatic breast cancer should not talk about their disease with anyone other than their physician.1 This social stigma is often driven by misunderstandings of the disease. 24-59% believe that metastatic breast cancer patients did not take preventive measures and are in some way responsible for their disease.2 In most of the European countries surveyed, at least half of respondents (France 45%, UK 60%, Germany 59%, Poland 68%, Turkey 69%2) believe that early detection or treatment can prevent disease progression2 and 48-76% (France 48%, UK 52%, Germany 55%, Poland 61%, Turkey 76%2) believe that advanced breast cancer is curable.1

The general public’s knowledge of wider breast cancer issues often derives from survivor stories by patients with early breast cancer, which receive considerable media attention and ensure that breast cancer is a disease familiar to many people.1 In contrast, the report reveals that the terms ‘advanced breast cancer’ or ‘metastatic breast cancer’ are less widely understood.1

“It is clear that patients globally face stigma and isolation from their communities when they are diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer, a time when they are most in need of high- quality support,” Fatima Cardoso, MD points out: “It is our responsibility to support women with advanced breast cancer as much as we support women with early breast cancer. We must improve public understanding of the advanced form of the disease and work to improve quantity as well as quality of life for patients.”

Metastatic breast cancer patients will remain on treatment for the rest of their lives, and quality of life is often expressed by patients and physicians as a top priority for their ongoing care. In a survey of oncologists, nurses and breast cancer leaders (conducted across nine countries including Germany, Italy, Portugal and Sweden), 79% name greater quality of life and better support as two of the top five priorities for metastatic breast cancer patients, beyond medical treatment needs.2

The Global Status Report underscores the significant and complex challenges that continue to exist in the metastatic breast cancer landscape and the need for greater unity to meet the care and support needs of women living with this disease.

Public health experts expect the global number of breast cancer related deaths to rise by an estimated 43% by 2030.3

In the past decade has been a greater focus on improvements in early breast cancer outcomes than for metastatic breast cancer treatments.4 Pfizer is working with the ESO and the European breast cancer community to accelerate the understanding of advanced breast cancer and to seek changes in metastatic breast cancer outcomes that will lead to better care and support for patients.”There is an unquestionable need for more research surrounding metastatic breast cancer worldwide,” Dr. med. Michael Warmbold, Vice President Medical Oncology Europe/Africa/Middle East, says: “Through our work, we hope to address the challenges that continue to exist in the metastatic breast cancer landscape.”

About the Global Decade Report

The Global Status of Metastatic Breast Cancer (mBC): A 2005 – 2015 Decade Report, developed by Pfizer in collaboration with the European School of Oncology (ESO), assesses the status of mBC in terms of patient care, the wider breast cancer environment and scientific advances and developments.

The analysis is based on three newly commissioned primary surveys examining current perceptions of the state of breast cancer among the general public, patient advocacy groups, Breast Cancer Centres, oncologists and nurses in 34 countries around the world. This included the first survey of the global population’s perceptions of mBC fielded in 14 countries and involving 14,315 adults (both mBC patients and non-patients). In Europe, the UK, France, Germany, Poland and Turkey participated. In addition, secondary analyses were conducted, and included an analysis of existing breast cancer resources and more than 3,000 previously published articles and abstracts, to determine the global mBC landscape over the past decade.

This report is the most comprehensive analysis to date of the global advanced and metastatic breast cancer landscape over the past decade, and was developed with guidance from a global steering committee of multidisciplinary leaders in the mBC community.

The late breaking abstract Global Status of Advanced/ Metastatic Breast Cancer (ABC/mBC): A Decade Report 2005-2015 (7LBA) were presented today at the 10th European Breast Cancer Conference (EBCC) in Amsterdam by Fatima Cardoso, MD, director, Breast Unit at Champalimaud Clinical Center in Lisbon. The late breaking abstract was part of the plenary session “Keynote Lecture, Oral and Late Breaking Abstracts”, 09:45-11:15, March 11th 2016.

For more information on the report, including methodology, please visit: www.BreastCancerVision.com.