Study: Half of breast cancer victims lack information

One of every two women with metastatic breast cancer, a cancer that has reached other parts of the body, believes that her disease is receiving little public attention.

According to a recent study, 75 out of every 100 women proactively seeks information about advanced breast cancer, however 51 percent found the available information is often not enough or not useful.

Four out of every 10 reported being fearful over talking about their experiences, revealed the BRIDGE (Bridging Gaps, Expanding Outreach) survey.

This survey was conducted among 950 women living with metastatic breast cancer from nine countries in three continents, including the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Belgium, the United States, Argentina, Egypt and Mexico.

The survey also revealed that regardless of the negative impact of their disease, the majority of polled patients (66 percent) still enjoys life and is willing to share their experiences publicly.

It revealed that 67 out of every 100 of these women wish to offer the public more information about their disease and 53 percent insist on the need to get more attention from the media on this topic.

‘In many countries attention on breast cancer has focused on the early stages of the disease, leading to a lack of resources and care for patients who develop metastatic breast cancer’, said Professor Lesley Fallowfield, director of the Psychosocial Oncology Group, Cancer Research UK from Sussex University, who was a member of the steering committee of the survey.

‘The BRIDGE survey highlights the need to increase the diffusion about metastatic breast cancer as part of an effort to make those suffering from it feel part of the community of women with breast cancer’.

It is estimated that every year 1.3 million new cases of breast cancer are reported. Breast cancer is the main cause of death due to cancer among women worldwide, with an estimated 465,000 deaths per year.

In developed countries close to 30 percent of women with early stage breast cancer will eventually develop metastatic breast cancer; in other words, the cancer will spread beyond the breast to other parts of the body, such as the bones, lungs, liver and brain. In developing countries most women with breast cancer are diagnosed with metastatic disease.

Unlike early stages of breast cancer, there are no available curative therapies in the case of advanced or metastatic disease, and patients must undergo continuous treatments to control the growth of the disease and its symptoms.

While most of those polled (67 percent) recognize that metastatic breast cancer has negatively impacted a big part of their lives, 50 percent consider themselves cancer ‘survivors’ and see life in a positive way.

‘The BRIDGE survey emphasises on the strength of human spirit. With optimal support and resources, many women with metastatic disease can live their lives adequately for long periods of time’, said Musa Mayer, patient advocate and founder of AdvancedBC.org, as well as member of the steering committee of the BRIDGE poll.

‘This survey is a very important first step that helps us identify the needs of this patient population. It provides us with the necessary drive from world leaders to assure that these women will receive better support and care,’ she said.

The study was conducted by Harris Interactive, an international polling firm and sponsored by Pfizer Oncology during the 11th International Conference on Primary Therapy during Early Stages of Breast Cancer this year in St. Gallen, Switzerland.

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