It's Not (Just) About the Breast: The Cancer Road Less Walked A Young Woman's Cancer Story tells the story of Aussie physio Petrina Burnett’s diagnosis with triple negative, BRCA-mutated breast cancer at age 31. It’s a refreshing and much-needed account of what it’s like to face breast cancer as a young woman and to grapple with a genetic disease. Petrina’s deep personal insights and her expertise as a health care provider mean her perspective is rare and valuable.
BCAC Chair Libby Burgess reflected on this question after attending the premier international breast cancer research conference, SABCS 2023, in San Antonio Texas last month. Triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) is an aggressive subtype lacking HER2 or hormone receptors. It is the most challenging type of breast cancer to treat, particularly at the advanced stage. However, research over the last 20 years has broadened treatment options and improved patient outcomes.
At SABCS, Libby was…
BCAC is delighted to see the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists (RANZCR) recommend mandating of breast density reporting in both breast screening and diagnosis.
BCAC’s Louise Malone was among 10,000 attendees at this premier international breast cancer research conference held in Texas, 3-8 December. She shares some of the key themes she observed among the many workshops, posters and sessions.
“De-escalation” of therapies
Treatment holidays, where therapy is temporarily stopped, are something that those living with advanced breast cancer sometimes have to contemplate. Perhaps there is an important occasion coming up – a wedding or other family celebration, or an overseas trip – where the side effects of the treatment would interfere with enjoyment of the occasion. In discussing this with their oncologist, it’s important to take into account the current evidence – for or against – taking treatment holidays…
Not all patients are ready to discuss their prognosis soon after a diagnosis of advanced breast cancer (ABC) – and that is their choice – but the earlier this is discussed the more influence patients can have on their treatment plan and end of life options. Oncologists are not necessarily starting the conversations early enough but it is important that they do, taking into account their patients’ values and preferences.
Claire has been living with HER2-positive advanced breast cancer since 2016; since her cancer progressed she has been processing the fears that inevitably accompany this. Claire’s story is one of overcoming her fears by facing them, and taking control.
Here's BCAC’s report of Claire’s talk at the recent ABC7 international advanced breast cancer conference:
Very few studies have looked at the impact of diet or exercise in patients with advanced breast cancer (ABC). On a biological level, repeated exercise may limit tumour growth, and some dietary interventions, e.g., plant-based diets, can help improve fatigue. But more research is needed in all these areas. Until there is more evidence, there are things that patients can do to improve their quality of life with a diagnosis of advanced breast cancer.
October 13th is Metastatic Awareness Day in the United States, thanks to Shirley Mertz, a metastatic breast cancer survivor from the United States.
Many patients with advanced breast cancer develop lymphoedema either after surgery or as a result of cancer itself. It is swelling on the arm, back or chest on the side of the breast surgery, and can occur at any time after diagnosis, even years later. There are four phases of lymphoedema, ranging from almost completely asymptomatic to debilitating, where it can cause severe pain and reduce a person’s inability to work or perform normal activities.