Secondary or metastatic breast cancer are the terms used for cancer that has spread from the breast to other parts of the body.
The physical, practical, financial, emotional and spiritual support needs of women with secondary breast cancer are complex, individual and variable. These needs are very different to those of women with early breast cancer and the strategies established to meet these needs must be done so in acknowledgement of these differences.
Cancer Australia's Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Management of Advanced Breast Cancer should be implemented nationally.
- Greater focus and resources should be directed to secondary breast cancer. As part of this, collection of national data about the incidence of secondary breast cancer is required so that resources can be properly allocated and managed.
- Palliative care should not be viewed as end-of-life care. Good symptom control, support, pain relief and access to clinical trials should be available to all women following a diagnosis of advanced or secondary breast cancer.
- A nationally consistent approach to palliative care services for women with secondary breast cancer should be implemented.
- Improved, affordable access to pharmaceuticals that can significantly improve quality of life and length of life is required.
- All women with secondary breast cancer should be assessed on an ongoing basis to determine their individual needs for practical, emotional and spiritual support.
- The shortage of psychosocial practitioners and appropriate support services should be addressed so that all women with secondary breast cancer can have access to supportive care, regardless of their location or circumstances.