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Media releases 24 Oct 2016

Cancer Australia clinical practice guidelines to drive better experience for breast cancer

Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA) welcomes the release of the Cancer Australia Statement - influencing best practice in breast cancer that aims to identify and influence best practice in breast cancer treatment and care across Australia.

The Statement complements existing clinical practice guidelines highlighting a patient-centered approach to care that allows people to make evidence-based decisions about which treatment options are right for them.

The Statement encourages everyone involved in their care to ensure quality of life and wellbeing are central to decision making. Treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy for breast cancer can have long lasting impacts so it is essential that all people have the opportunity to discuss with their doctors what is important to them.

Some of the practices included in the Statement include recommendations that it is important to:

  • Discuss fertility preservation and family planning for young women prior to treatment
  • Offer genetic counselling and genetic testing to people with a high familial risk at the time they are diagnosed with cancer, to assist them with treatment decision-making
  • Offer shorter, more intense courses of radiotherapy (hypofractionated radiotherapy) where appropriate
  • Offer shared follow-up care between specialists and GPs to allow more accessible care that focuses on overall health.

Kathy Wells, Head of Policy, Research and Advocacy at BCNA, said that the release of the Statement represents the importance of bringing together key stakeholders in breast cancer care, including people affected by breast cancer, to collaboratively work towards delivery of high quality care for all Australians diagnosed with breast cancer

“BCNA has been an active participant in the development of the Statement right from the very beginning,” Kathy said. “Cancer Australia invited us to appoint two of our trained Consumer Representatives to the working group that developed the Statement. They worked with Cancer Australia and BCNA to ensure that issues that are important to our members are reflected in the Statement.”

BCNA hopes the Statement will drive practice change so that all Australians receive the information and support they need to work through complex and sensitive treatment decisions.

Breast surgeon and BCNA Board Member Professor Bruce Mann said Australia has one of the highest survival rates for breast cancer in the world but there is more that can be done to ensure people across the country are getting the information they need about options that are right for them.

“The Statement is intended to complement relevant clinical practice guidelines and highlight what ‘ought to be done’ in breast cancer care,” Professor Mann said. “It also identifies some practices for which there is not good evidence and which should therefore not be offered, such as body scans as part of routine follow up care for early breast cancer. We hope that this will help people to understand why these tests are not routinely recommended.”

BCNA hopes that the Statement will empower people diagnosed with breast cancer to make informed evidence-based decisions in partnership with their health professionals.

BCNA is pleased to endorse the Cancer Australia Statement – influencing best practice in breast cancer and will be communicating the practices to our members and reflecting them through our resources, website, social media and other channels.