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BCNA News 21 Mar 2019

New AIHW report highlights more needs to be done for Australians diagnosed with Metastatic Breast Cancer

BCNA is calling for more to be done for Australians diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer following the release of new statistics that show the five-year survival rate for metastatic breast cancer is 32 per cent.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) released its report Cancer in Australia 2019 which shows that breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia, and has the fourth highest mortality rate after lung, colorectal and prostate cancers.

BCNA CEO Kirsten Pilatti said the poor five-year survival rate for metastatic breast cancer was very concerning and needed to be addressed.

“BCNA has for some years been calling for changes to Australia’s drug approval processes so that new breast cancer treatments are approved for use and listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) much more quickly,” Kirsten said. “While we acknowledge the Australian Government’s work to date to speed up some of these processes, more still needs to be done.”

Kirsten also repeated BCNA’s call for the collection of data on the incidence of metastatic breast cancer.

“While the AIHW report shows that around 4.6 per cent of new breast cancer diagnoses are metastatic, data is not routinely collected by cancer registries when breast cancer progresses, so we do not know how many people diagnosed with early breast cancer go on to develop metastatic disease."

“Without these statistics, it is difficult for health services and organisations such as BCNA to appropriately plan and provide services to support people living with metastatic disease."

BCNA’s 2018 State of the Nation report outlined a number of priorities to better support people living with metastatic breast cancer, including:

  • new funding to provide more metastatic cancer nurses and cancer care co-ordinators in all major metropolitan and regional cancer centres
  • improved funding for palliative care services
  • review of the adequacy of carer supports available for people supporting someone with metastatic breast cancer

Read the full AIHW report.