With your help this year, we’ve been working hard to find the causes of breast cancer, stop people dying from it and improve the lives of all affected by the disease.
In just a few weeks we’ll be one year closer to our goal that by 2050, everybody who develops breast cancer will live – and live well. And it’s all thanks to the incredible support of people like you.
Here’s just a sample of all the amazing things you have helped us to achieve over the last twelve months:
The Breast Cancer Now Generations Study is helping us to find ways to prevent breast cancer
The Breast Cancer Now Generations study (in partnership with The Institute of Cancer Research, London) is following the lives of 113,000 women over 40 years, to identify and understand the complex mix of genetic, lifestyle and hormonal factors involved in the development of breast cancer.
Now in its 14th year, we have seen several exciting findings. Most notably, a study carried out by the centre’s scientists enhanced the evidence of a link between smoking and breast cancer, particularly in women who started smoking before the age of 17.
We’ve had major breakthroughs in ways we could stop deaths from this devastating disease
This year we announced the results of our ‘Triple Negative Trial’, a trial we ran with Cancer Research UK, that is the first and only one of its kind, searching for the best treatment options for those with triple negative breast cancer.
Researchers found that in certain types of triple negative breast cancer, carboplatin outperformed standard chemotherapy in delaying progression of the disease. These results are a step forward for women with this form of the disease, whose cancers are often more aggressive and have limited treatment options.
We also found that a drug called crizotinib, that is currently used as a lung cancer treatment, has the potential to be used in the treatment of breast cancer.
These are hugely promising findings and what we have seen so far suggests this is certainly an approach worth pursuing. So we’re now going to move forward with further clinical trials, to see if this drug really can work as a treatment for women with breast cancer.
Our influencing work is helping get drugs to those that so desperately need them
Perjeta has finally been approved for routine use on the NHS by NICE. This means the drug will continue to be available on the NHS in England, and is now available for the first time in Wales and Northern Ireland. We fed into the NICE committee which made this decision. Perjeta can give women with HER2 positive secondary breast cancer nearly 16 months of additional life, compared to the alternative treatment option.
Perjeta has previously been rejected for use in Scotland by the SMC. Earlier this year we launched our ‘Perjeta Now’ campaign to ensure access for women in Scotland and handed over a petition with 12,203 signatures calling on the SMC, pharmaceutical company Roche and the Scottish Government to work together to make Perjeta available.
Our campaign led to Perjeta being re-submitted to the Scottish Medicines Consortium for consideration. We expect to hear the outcome in the New Year.
Bisphosphonates are cheap, widely available drugs that can reduce the risk of breast cancer spreading to other parts of the body, where it becomes incurable. They could prevent 10% of all breast cancer deaths and save the NHS around £6 million a year.
Thanks to our influencing work, bisphosphonates are now available to women at high risk of their breast cancer recurring across Scotland and Wales. We also worked with NICE to include bisphosphonates for these women in their latest treatment guidelines, which we hope will help improve access for women in England.
We highlighted the postcode lottery of breast cancer treatment and care to improve the lives of all affected by breast cancer
In February, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Breast Cancer, which we support, launched a report highlighting that women in some areas of England are two and a half times more likely to die from breast cancer under the age of 75.
We followed this in June with our report on breast reconstruction services in England. This report highlighted that 47 Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) are restricting access to reconstructive or balancing surgery.
Since launching the campaign, we have had confirmation from eight CCGs that they will review their policies, which we hope will result in women in those areas having greater access to breast reconstruction.
Breast cancer is not a done deal
The Prime Minister recently announced significant investment in the NHS and the Government is finalising a long-term NHS plan to spend this money. This was a once-in-a-generation opportunity to emphasise to politicians and civil servants just how essential investment in breast cancer services is.
None of our discoveries would have been possible without every one of our wonderful supporters giving regularly, putting on events in their communities, running, trekking and cycling for us and so much more. However you chose to support us this year, thank you.
While we look back on the year and all that we have to celebrate, we know that there is much to look forward to for the next as well.
2019 will see us uniting with Breast Cancer Care, to create the UK’s first comprehensive breast cancer charity. It’s a very exciting time for Breast Cancer Now, and the charity’s future. We hope that you will join us on our journey to 2050, and help us to make that vision a reality.
Happy new year!