Metastatic Breast Cancer Alliance landmark report finds metastatic breast cancer research underfunded and identifies opportunities to close gaps for people living with metastatic breast cancer – Press Release, 2014

On October 13, 2014 – National Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day –  we released the results of our landscape report, Changing the Landscape for People Living with Metastatic Breast Cancer after a comprehensive year-long analysis of current metastatic breast cancer research, clinical trials, quality of life and patient needs, as well as information and services.

While metastatic breast cancer claims the lives of 40,000 women and men in America every year and 20-30% of those diagnosed with early stage breast cancer will go on to develop recurrent, metastatic disease, awareness remains low and only 7% of breast cancer research investments over the last dozen years were focused on the disease. Changing the Landscape analyzed 224 clinical trials, 2281 funded research grants, 7900 metastatic breast cancer patient responses to surveys and 175 literature articles on quality of life and epidemiological studies.

Key findings of the Changing the Landscape report include:

Research: More funds need to be directed to metastatic breast cancer-focused research. $1.0B invested since 2000 in research grants specifically focused on metastatic breast cancer was identified, or only 7%, of the $15-billion invested in breast cancer research grants included in our study. The majority focused on understanding the key processes of metastasis.

Clinical trials: 169 clinical trials testing ‘targeted’ therapies for metastatic breast cancer were identified, addressing 7 common traits shared by all cancers. Opportunities exist to reduce barriers to patient participation in trials and to update the design of trials to address endpoints important for metastatic breast cancer.

Quality of Life: More needs to be done to meet the needs of patients and families. Patients with metastatic breast cancer have unique emotional, physical and psychosocial needs, many of which are unmet by health care providers and support organizations. There is limited quality of life research conducted on the needs of minority or poor populations living with the disease.

Patient education and support services: Alliance members provide significant support and information to people living with metastatic breast cancer. However, opportunities exist to make information about the disease across agencies more consistent and easily understood, to develop metrics that measure the reach and impact of programs and services, and to reach into underserved communities regardless of socioeconomic status, race, gender, culture or geography.

Epidemiology: Improving care requires documenting the number of metastatic breast cancer patients, how long they live, and how well they respond to treatments. Population-based data are needed on early breast cancer patients who experience a recurrence after early stage diagnosis.