Charity Breast Cancer Now and its campaigners are extremely proud that today, the first ever National Metastatic Breast Cancer Audit, funded by NHS England, has been announced. It represents an important milestone achieved by the charity, after more than a decade of tireless campaigning for improved data collection.
The Metastatic Breast Cancer Audit should provide, for the first time, accurate figures around the number of people in England living with breast cancer that has spread to another part of the body – known as metastatic or secondary breast cancer.
The news comes 12 years after the National Cancer Intelligence Network committed to delivering this data in response to an earlier campaign by Breast Cancer Now.1
The data captured through the audit will also provide unique insight into the experiences and needs of secondary breast cancer patients.
And in turn, the data will support the NHS to design and plan services in an informed way - one that we hope will provide patients with tailored support that meets their needs.
The urgent requirement for the audit was set out in Breast Cancer Now’s 2019 report which revealed the devastating reality of living with incurable breast cancer in the UK2.
That includes daily anxiety and uncertainty, with many people experiencing concerning delays in diagnosis, struggling to access vital support from a specialist nurse, and fearing they may not be able to access life-changing treatments.
For more than a decade, the charity has called on UK governments to collect data on secondary breast cancer to improve diagnosis, treatment, and access to support. It most recently called for a national secondary breast cancer audit as part of its 2020 campaign.
At a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted breast cancer diagnosis and treatment, today’s announcement of a National Metastatic Breast Cancer Audit being introduced in England brings patients hope for a brighter future.
Baroness Delyth Morgan, Chief Executive at Breast Cancer Now, said:
“Today’s announcement of a National Metastatic Breast Cancer Audit in England marks a long-awaited milestone for patients with incurable breast cancer.
"I’m hugely proud of the instrumental role Breast Cancer Now and our supporters have played in making this happen.
“Until now, women with secondary breast cancer have felt overlooked and forgotten at an already frightening and challenging time.
"This is why we’ve repeatedly called on UK governments to create audits to gather the data that will enable us to understand and meet patient needs.
“While this data won’t be available immediately, it brings hope for patients in the future.
"We’ll support NHS England as they develop the audit, to ensure it brings us the insight that we have lacked but so badly needed. And to inform the development of treatment, care and support that gives people with this devastating disease the best chance to live well, for as long as possible.
“Progress in research has made it possible for people with secondary breast cancer to live longer. And we are determined to ensure patients access the best possible treatments and have the best quality of life.
"We know that optimally-planned and resourced services are the linchpin to making this a reality.
"And we now call on governments across the UK nations to follow suit and implement similar audits so that no patients are left behind.”
Breast Cancer Now’s campaigning ensures that everyone affected by breast cancer receives the best possible treatment, services, support and care - find out more or sign up.
Breast Cancer Now’s free Living With Secondary Breast Cancer Online course is available 24/7. It offers those living with the incurable disease emotional wellbeing support and information - and the chance to connect with others who share similar uncertainties and challenges.
Notes to Editors
- Breast Cancer Now, Unsurvivors: Until things change, October 2019.
- It is estimated that approximately 35,000 people are living with secondary breast cancer in the UK. Breast Cancer Now, Unsurvivors: Until things change, October 2019.
The National Metastatic Breast Cancer Audit is one of five new cancer audits announced today in England.