12-months on Herceptin confirmed as the gold standard

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A new report released at the renowned San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium in the USA has confirmed that 12 months of Herceptin gives women with HER2-positive breast cancer the best chance of survival.

Clinical trials have been underway in New Zealand and elsewhere to test whether a 9-week programme of Herceptin would offer the same benefits as the longer programme.

BCAC chair, Libby Burgess, says the results from the SOLD (Synergism Or Long Duration) trial are long-awaited and show incontrovertibly that 12 months of Herceptin provides the optimum standard of care.

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Bariatric surgery lowers the risk of breast cancer for obese women

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Bariatric surgery (reducing the size of the stomach) for severely obese women could lower their breast cancer risk by more than a third, according to a new study.

The research from University of Cincinnati College of Medicine has been published in the journal the Annals of Surgery and reviewed the medical data of more than 100,000 people in the United States.   

Lead researcher, Dr Daniel Schauer, says the results were surprising.

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Guest speaker shares ideas on improving access

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Metavivors NZ members were in full force at BCAC’s Annual General Meeting at Domain Lodge in Auckland recently. PHARMAC CEO, Steffan Crausaz also attended, as did Breast Cancer Support co-chairs Judith Shinegold and Lesley Harper, Michele Urlich from the Lymphoedema Support Network, and several other BCAC members.

BCAC Chairperson, Libby Burgess, described another full year of activity for BCAC. She thanked the 3,000 people who joined BCAC’s online campaign to let the Minister of Health know of the desperate need for better treatments for those with advanced breast cancer. 

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Report on medicines funding is a damning tale that needs an immediate happy ending

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A breast cancer charity says a new report that identifies a multi-million dollar funding gap for medicines is a damning indictment of a failing system and an urgent wake-up call for change.

The report by the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER) has found that medicines funding has fallen in real terms every year since 2007 to the point where there is now an investment gap of more than $680 million.

The NZIER says this is how much extra money would be needed simply to bring the medicines budget back to the level it was in 2007 in real terms.

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Could probiotics or antibiotics one day help to prevent breast cancer?

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Researchers have discovered that women with breast cancer have far less of a particular bacterial species in their breast tissue than healthy women.

The new study, published in the journal Oncotarget, found that breast tissue in women with breast cancer contained far less Methylobacterium.

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Axillary node dissection may not be needed for many women with early-stage breast cancer

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Ten-year results from a major breast cancer clinical trial suggest that routinely removing the axillary lymph nodes during lumpectomy to remove early-stage breast cancer may not be necessary.

The study was published in the journal JAMA and examined nearly 900 women diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer to find out if axillary node dissection lead to better long-term outcomes.

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BCAC thrilled with plans for extended breast screening

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The Breast Cancer Aotearoa Coalition (BCAC) is thrilled to see a proposed extension of the upper age for free breast screening from 69 to 74-years-old in the Labour-New Zealand First coalition agreement.

The move is one of the key details for health outlined in the coalition agreement. At the moment, BreastScreen Aotearoa only offers free breast screening to women between the ages of 45 and 69.

BCAC chair, Libby Burgess, says she’s over-the-moon to see a concrete plan to extend screening to women older than 69.

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New partnership to focus on women with secondary breast cancer

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The Breast Cancer Aotearoa Coalition (BCAC) is excited to partner with the Karen Louisa Foundation to better support New Zealanders with secondary breast cancer.

The Karen Louisa Foundation will donate $20,000 to BCAC over the next year as the organisation launches a special focus on women with secondary breast cancer.

BCAC chairperson, Libby Burgess, says the aim is to better support the hundreds of New Zealanders currently living with secondary breast cancer.

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Kenzie's Gift launches 'Memories are Forever' packs for kids

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For children coping with losing a special person in their lives, they often lack the opportunity or knowledge to express how they are feeling. Kenzie’s Gift’s latest “Memories are Forever” packs have been designed to help and support bereaved children and their families so that they do not have to grieve alone. 

Kenzie’s Gift director, Nic Russell hopes the pack will provide useful information for families experiencing a bereavement within the family as well as guidance for talking to your children about the loss of a loved one.

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BCAC disputes Pharmac report on access to medicines

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The Breast Cancer Aotearoa Coalition has dismissed Pharmac’s claims that cancer medicines funded in Australia but not New Zealand lack “meaningful” health gains. 

The charity notes at least six breast cancer medicines that have significant health benefits for women with breast cancer that are funded in Australia, but not in New Zealand: Kadcyla, Perjeta, Abraxane, Faslodex, Afinitor, and Halaven.