NBCF commissions new Australian-first research to uncover the real risk of breast cancer

October 10th, 2017

New direction underpins goal to stop deaths from breast cancer

The National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF) has, for the first time, commissioned a major research project in collaboration with the University of South Australia to understand better the risk profiles of women most at risk of dying from breast cancer.

Breast cancer is now the most commonly diagnosed cancer reported in Australia, with 48 women expected to be diagnosed each day[i]. Although it has one of the highest survival rates, thanks to research and the provision of high-quality services based on the research evidence, 10 per cent of women diagnosed with breast cancer still die from the disease in five years.[ii]

Currently, breast cancer data is available from a number of different sources in Australia. However, a stronger focus point is needed to pull this data together to enable a unified view on where and why pockets of risk exist amongst the population.

The new Commissioned Research Program is a collaboration between NBCF and the Centre for Population Health Research at the University of South Australia and other experts. An Australian-first, this research will link multiple data sets from screening services, hospitals, radiotherapy centres,  and other cancer clinics around Australia to help determine why and how people affected by breast cancer may have worse health outcomes than others and evidence for this disparity.

NBCF has committed funding of $420,000 to the project, thanks to the generosity of the Australian community. NBCF CEO Professor Sarah Hosking said that the Commissioned Research project is vital to give NBCF a big picture view of the real risk of breast cancer in Australia to better align research focus areas.

“Over the past 20 years research has come so far in reducing deaths from breast cancer, but until we reach zero deaths we believe the job’s not done,” said Professor Sarah Hosking.
“NBCF will use this new information to make data driven decisions in setting research priorities that are focused on closing the gap on the last 10 per cent of breast cancer deaths and making it a better tomorrow for those affected,” she continued.

Professor Hosking said that the valuable information gathered from the data provides scope for NBCF to advocate for changes in public health policy and service delivery.

“We want to ensure ensure that every Australian affected by  breast  cancer receives the very best standard of care,” said Professor Hosking.

“Some of the areas that we really want to drill down on are the levels of breast cancer care and personalisation of this care to meet the needs of different sectors of the population, what the gaps in care are and what health system changes are need to fill them,” she added.

Professor Ian Olver, Director Sansom Institute, from the University of South Australia, and a Chief Investigator on the project, praised the forward thinking approach of NBCF in driving the new Commissioned Research Program.

“This research aims to increase patient survival and improve care more generally for the many thousands of Australians affected by cancer each year and this project  will be an important tool to help us achieve that,” said Professor Olver.

“Through this partnership with NBCF, we hope to speed up the translation of research evidence into health practice to save and improve the lives of breast cancer patients in Australia,” he added.

NBCF’s Commissioned Research is a multi-phase project that will start in South Australia and is planned to broaden out to New South Wales and the ACT. Ultimately it will provide data for Victoria and nationally.


[i] https://canceraustralia.gov.au/affected-cancer/cancer-types/breast-cancer/breast-cancer-statistics

[ii] http://www.aihw.gov.au/cancer/breast/