Giving hope to those affected
by secondary breast cancer

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Lancet Report: People with secondary breast cancer are being forgotten about

18th April 2024 by Lesley Stephen

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The Lancet is a peer-reviewed medical journal and is also one of the world's highest-
impact academic journals. In addition to weekly publication of original research, it
runs projects called Commissions. The Commissions aim to change health policy
and improve the lives of patients, by bringing scientists, researchers and patients together
to investigate the most urgent issues in global health.

Several years ago the Lancet commissioned an investigation into the inequalities in breast cancer globally. Our trustee, Lesley Stephen, was a co-collaborator on this Commission, and was invited to attend the launch of the report at the University of Cambridge this week.

She spoke about the challenges and inequities patients living with metastatic breast
cancer in the UK face, including some of her own personal experiences. The Commission report, which has had a lot of press coverage, identified that although people think that breast cancer is ‘fixed’, there are many urgent challenges that breast cancer patients face globally. The report highlights glaring inequities, with metastatic breast cancer patients in particular being left behind and forgotten.

Some of the highlighted issues included:

  • Lack of recording data on patients who relapse with metastatic breast cancer,
    so we don’t know how many people are living with the disease
  • MBC patients feeling isolated and abandoned, and not always receiving
    appropriate care
  • Patients living with significant hidden costs and associated suffering. These
    effects can be financial, psychological or social, are considerable, and often
    invisible to policy makers and clinicians
  • Patients reported breast cancer as robbing them of power, and there is a need
    to improve communication and create a greater sense of patients being involved in decision making.

The Report then lays out a roadmap with practical suggestions of how to address
and overcome some of these challenge - the launch event was a call to action to
deliver change now and fix this ‘global blunder’. We need clinicians and policy
makers to read it, and take urgent steps to address the issues in order to improve
the lives of all breast cancer patients.

Read the full report by clicking here, or watch the video about some of the challenges here.