Nearly 1,000 women and men die from breast cancer each month in the UK, and secondary, or metastatic, breast cancer is responsible for almost all of these deaths.
When breast cancer spreads to other parts of the body, becoming secondary breast cancer, it can be treatable but not curable. These are stark facts but at Breast Cancer Now we believe there will be a last one to die from breast cancer by 2050, and there is something everyone can do to help us reach that day.
So today, for Secondary Breast Cancer Awareness Day (Tuesday 13 October) here are five things you can do to help raise awareness, improve the lives of people living with this disease and stop secondary breast cancer taking lives.
1. Raise awareness
We’ve seen from surveys that many people still don’t know what secondary breast cancer is. If you want to help your friends, family or colleagues to understand secondary breast cancer, why not share our video below?
You can also direct people to this blog by Mary, one of the women featured in our campaign The Last One. Mary wants people to understand the realities of getting a diagnosis of secondary breast cancer.
2. Make the most of our brand new resources
To mark secondary breast cancer awareness day, we’ve launched our new online guide giving expert information on the treatment and support that secondary breast cancer patients should expect.
If you know someone who could benefit from an expert overview on what can be expected from secondary breast cancer treatment and care in their area, you can find our new guide here, as well as a blog we’ve written explaining why and how we’ve developed this guide.
3. Sign our petition
Kadcyla is the first drug of its kind and the only targeted antibody-chemotherapy combination drug available for secondary breast cancer. It’s a drug that can offer another option, and more time, for thousands of people whose secondary breast cancer has stopped responding to existing treatments like Herceptin, chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
However, as a new type of drug it comes with a hefty price tag, and on Wednesday 4 November, in England, it will be taken off the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) and therefore will no longer available to patients on the NHS – unless we can get Roche to reduce its price.
4. Learn about our Secondary Breast Cancer Pledge
We know that many women living with secondary breast cancer don’t receive the level of care that they should be able to expect.
That is why we have teamed up with the charity Breast Cancer Care to run our Secondary Breast Cancer Pledge, which involves both patients and hospital staff in improving the standard of care for people with secondary breast cancer.
To learn more and find out how to get involved read our blog from Lesley, a Patient Representative for the Secondary Breast Cancer Pledge.
5. Support our research into secondary breast cancer
By 2025, as a result of increased research, we believe 25% fewer people will develop secondary breast cancer, and by 2050 the disease will have taken its last life. But we can only make this a reality with your support. We are funding pioneering research into secondary breast cancer across the UK and Ireland.
One of our secondary breast cancer researchers in Manchester, Dr Paul Shore, was featured last weekend in the monthly BBC lifeline appeal. Dr Shore is investigating how to stop breast cancer spreading to the bone. Other research we are supporting into secondary breast cancer includes an ambitious project we announced back in June, the Breast Cancer Now LEGACY Study.
With the consent of patients, the study will collect samples from secondary breast cancer tumours collected from women after they have died from the disease. This was set up to help researchers answer the most difficult question facing researchers – how and why does breast cancer spread?
In support of this, the Breast Cancer Now Tissue Bank will also be expanding its vital resources for researchers across the UK and Ireland to include secondary breast cancer tissue.
Our scientists are finding out more about secondary breast cancer all the time, but we desperately need your help to make progress faster. You can donate now to help us continue tackling secondary breast cancer together.