BCAC recently contributed to an analysis of the early breast cancer pathway in Aotearoa New Zealand. This project was conducted by The Economist’s Impact team, a research group that provides country, industry and management analysis worldwide. They were commissioned to independently analyse New Zealand’s early breast cancer pathway, using existing data and expert input, to identify any opportunities for improvement. New Zealand participants included clinical specialists in surgery, radiation and medical oncology and breast screening, as well as Māori Cancer Leadership Hei Āhuru Mōwai, BCAC and the Breast Cancer Foundation.

Four main areas of focus were population awareness, screening and diagnosis, treatment and survivorship.

Opportunities identified to optimise early breast cancer care and improve outcomes for people living with breast cancer in Aotearoa were:

  • Deliver patient-centred care and support by expanding health system outcome measures from simple mortality to including quality of life
  • Bring patient and carer priorities into policy and decisions by establishing a coalition of stakeholders including patient advocates, healthcare professionals, researchers and industry representatives
  • Aspire to deliver world-class care with improved access to innovative treatments to bring New Zealand up to international standards of breast cancer care
  • Ensure breast screening is available and equitable by monitoring and regularly evaluating the reach, effectiveness and equity of the BreastScreen Aotearoa programme. Early detection significantly impacts patient outcomes and improving access for Māori and Pasifika is vital.
  • Develop, retain and upskill the health workforce to optimise care. Availability of workforce was identified as a cross-cutting challenge across all steps of the patient journey.

The report also noted some other barriers to optimising care: lack of access to breast cancer information for Māori and Pasifika; lack of awareness of risk factors; a need for updated guidelines for the management of early breast cancer in New Zealand; and an unmet need for psychosocial support.

The Economist’s Emily Tiemann is interviewed about the report’s findings in this video.

BCAC Chair Libby Burgess and radiation oncologist Giuseppe Sasso provided some of their perspectives in this video.

The full report can be read here.

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