BCNA joins international call to challenge enduring inequities in breast cancer care

Breast Cancer Network Australia

Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA) today joined an international call to raise the standard of breast cancer care and close gaps that exist between and within countries – including in Australia.

On Tuesday, in Cambridge, UK, the new Lancet Commission on Breast Cancer released findings and recommendations on improving breast cancer care globally.

The Commission’s landmark report to help reduce the impact of breast cancer on society was supported and funded in part by the Advanced Breast Cancer (ABC) Global Alliance, based in Lisbon, Portugal.

Globally, breast cancer is the most common cancer, and by 2040, the incidence of new breast cancers is predicted to be more than 3 million per year.

BCNA’s Director of Policy, Advocacy & Support Services, Vicki Durston – also president of the General Assembly and board member of the ABC Global Alliance – welcomed this landmark report.

“While advances have been made in breast cancer, there remain significant inequities, including access to care and treatment among disadvantaged groups, financial toxicity, and a lack of comprehensive cancer data to inform global policy development,” Ms Durston said.

“Although the five-year survival rate for breast cancer is high in Australia, there is still significant equity of access issues, particularly for those with metastatic breast cancer, and people from priority populations including First Nations, LGBTIQ+, CALD, and rural and remote communities.”

The Lancet Commission’s report called for a global commitment to “raise the standard of breast cancer care and to close the equity gap that exists between and within countries”, including a call to count the number of people living with metastatic breast cancer (MBC) on cancer registries to “facilitate optimal support for this patient population”.

It found that people living with MBC feel abandoned, isolated, and alone and might not receive appropriate care in both high-income and lower-middle-income countries. Better data could drive significant improvements in patients’ MBC care, outcomes, and emotional well-being.

This recommendation echoes those contained in a BCNA report, Time to Count People with Metastatic Breast Cancer – A Way Forward, launched in 2023, which called on Australian Governments to invest in capturing and reporting cancer stage and recurrence data, allowing us to finally count the number of people living with MBC across Australia.

The Lancet Commission report also found that there are many hidden costs of breast cancer, even in countries with public healthcare systems. These include financial costs but extend to physical, psychological, emotional, and social costs, impacting patients, families, and broader society.

BCNA joins the Commission’s call to better identify the value that society places on “relief of the hidden costs and suffering related to breast cancer and measure the benefits of addressing these”.

/Public Release.