Survival rates for women with metastatic breast cancer, the most serious form of the disease into which it has spread, have increased from 19% to 32%, new data show.
The five-year survival trend, covering the years 1994 to 2018, coming tomorrow before World Cancer Day, although cure rates for metastatic breast cancer are lower than for other cancers, shows that the number of women living in Ireland with the disease is steadily increasing and clinical trial development continues, resulting in new and improved treatments and therapies.
There are around 950 women in Ireland living with metastatic or distantly metastatic breast cancer, the most challenging area from a scientific research and treatment perspective, the charity Breast Cancer Ireland has shown.
Professor Leonie Young, scientific director of the Beaumont RCSI Cancer Center and leader of the Endocrine Oncology Research Group, said hope can also be found in the findings of groundbreaking new research by the Irish-funded research group Breastfeeding at RCSI, University of Medicine, and Health Sciences in Dublin, which has discovered a potential new target for the treatment of breast cancer that has spread to the brain.
Breast Cancer Ireland has launched a campaign, #MetastaticMatters, which focuses on people living with a diagnosis of metastatic disease.
The campaign aims to highlight the symptoms of metastatic disease to be aware of and also improve understanding of how and why this happens. The campaign will be supported by a digital PR and communications campaign which will ensure the voices and concerns of people living with metastatic disease in Ireland are heard, understood and valued, making the breast cancer community feel like a place where include all those affected, said one speaker.
Breast Cancer Ireland chief Aisling Hurley said: “The narrative around metastatic breast cancer needs to evolve…and it is beginning to do so. It is undeniably a very worrying diagnosis but from a research perspective, there is hope to be found and findings indicate that it is getting more hopeful by the day. We see many women and men in this country living with metastatic disease…and in fact living well. In this sense, it’s important to drive conversations around metastatic breast cancer and show what it can look like, and what it does look like for so many people. The idea of living with an incurable disease can be a hard one to get our heads around, but in the last 5 years significant strides are being made to change the prognosis of stage four breast cancer, helping patients live longer, fuller lives,” reports Independent.
Rachel McKenna, a Breast Cancer Ireland Patient Supporter, currently living with stage 4 breast and bone cancer added: “The dichotomy of metastatic breast cancer often creates confusion – a stage four cancer diagnosis may become terminal and yet it’s possible to live a full life with this incurable illness for a potentially long time. It’s hard to get your ahead around at times – we’ll be on treatment for the rest of our life, but people live with this – and many live well. A diagnosis of metastatic cancer is serious and incredibly scary, but as treatments advance, and research is underway by some of the finest cancer experts across the globe, patients have more options than ever,” reports Independent.Q
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