Baroness Delyth Morgan, Chief Executive of Breast Cancer Now, has commented on the new estimates.
Baroness Delyth Morgan, Chief Executive of Breast Cancer Now, said:
“Today’s new estimate that 57,215 people were living with secondary breast cancer in England in 2020/21 (April 2020 to March 2021) is a landmark moment in understanding the true number of people living with secondary breast cancer in England.
"For too long, a lack of current data has meant that no-one has understood the real scale of the care, treatment and support needs of these patients.
“This new research - which suggests that in England alone there are significantly more people living with secondary breast cancer than the gross underestimate of 35,0001 across the whole of the UK - illustrates the devastating reality for people living with this incurable disease: they are simply overlooked.
"We’re acutely aware that, too often, people living with incurable breast cancer have felt forgotten at an already frightening and challenging time, with many experiencing long delays in diagnosis, struggling to access vital support from a specialist nurse, and fearing they may not be able to access life-changing treatments.
“It also suggests that the number of people living with secondary breast cancer in England has been increasing over time, from 38,350 in 2016/17.
"This again highlights the need for more support for the diagnosis, treatment and care of people living with secondary breast cancer.
"We know that the NHS is facing immense pressures and challenges, but there has to be a robust plan to support this neglected group of patients.
“This new estimation is a vital first step in better understanding the picture of secondary breast cancer in England.
"It is further proof of the value of the first NHS funded National Metastatic Breast Cancer Audit, which has now been given the go-ahead in England and Wales after a decade of tireless campaigning by Breast Cancer Now and our supporters.
"Through gathering vital insight, the Audit will help support the NHS to design and plan services in an informed way.
"But those plans must be acted on, so that patients receive treatment, care and support that meets their needs, and so that they can live well for as long as possible.
“It’s vital, however, that audits happen across the whole of the UK.
"The upcoming Scottish Cancer Strategy presents a crucial opportunity for the Scottish Government to commit to a secondary breast cancer audit.
Notes To Editors:
- Our current estimate of 35,000 people living with secondary breast cancer in the UK is based on figures published in a 2015 paper by Yip et al. In their analysis they use calculations based on median survival and mortality with figures relating to 2010.