Sharing the latest on Australia & New Zealand breast cancer research

A wealth of knowledge has been brought back to New Zealand by two Breast Cancer Aotearoa Coalition representatives following the Breast Cancer Trials Australia New Zealand annual scientific meeting in Australia.

Committee members Louise Malone and Fay Sowerby attended to gather the latest intelligence to contribute to BCAC’s work supporting, informing and representing women with breast cancer.

Louise says it was impressive to see the huge amount of research underway and the big advances in understanding of breast cancer.

A key out-take from the meeting is the growing awareness of the complexity of breast cancer and how to best manage the different types of cancer.

“Every time we hear about a new trial we understand more about how breast cancer is really a collection of many sub-types of breast cancer. It seems likely that future research is going to uncover more complexity and sub-types.

“It’s good news because it means better targeted drugs and regimes can be developed for the different sub-types that will provide better results,” Louise says.

Research and clinical trials will continue to build the understanding of the different forms of cancer, and the medicines and treatment regimes that will provide the most benefits for each.

“While there is not going to be a silver bullet, we can actually see a day on the horizon when breast cancer could become a chronic manageable disease. The right tailored treatment including the right medicines and combinations of medicines will be fundamental to achieving that.”

The systems that exist to decide who deserves public funding for medicines, and which medicines should be funded, will need to adapt to cater for the existence of more sub-types of breast cancer and sub-types of medicines, Louise says.

“Current processes for drug development, commercialisation and marketing by pharmaceutical companies may also not be optimal for making a multiplicity of future cancer treatments, targeted to smaller sub-groups of patients, affordable and accessible to all.”

Another aspect that stood out at the three-day meeting was the impact that clinicians’ personalities and perspectives on medicine can have on treatment for individuals.

“We know that all New Zealand specialists follow Ministry of Health advice on best practice for treatment of breast cancer, but the conference presentations showed me that, as with any group of people, doctors’ personalities can affect their attitudes to risk. Acknowledging this and communicating about your own attitude to risk and comparing it with those of your physicians could be a worthwhile exercise for patients and doctors alike. It’s important that the treatment choices made really reflect what you want. We encourage women to talk openly with their medical advisors and to take a support person whenever needed,” Louise says.

Breast Cancer Aotearoa Coalition will be sharing more articles soon on the Breast Cancer Trials Australia New Zealand annual scientific meeting.

PHOTO: Meeting attendees (L-R): Marjie Courtis, Louise Malone, Jeynelle Broatch, Kylie Tietjens, Val Smith, Mandy Forteath

6 August 2018

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