The National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF) has marked the first day of Breast Cancer Awareness Month by revealing the potential impact of breast cancer deaths to the country from the final nine percent of women yet to reach the five-year survival rate. Updated modelling from the country’s leading national funding body for breast cancer research estimates that without adequate funding for research 30,000 lives could be lost to breast cancer over the next 10 years to 2030. Of the 30,000, over half are predicted to be women who do not reach the five-year milestone after their diagnosis, with cancer spread or ‘metastatic breast cancer’ and an aggressive sub-type of the disease known as ‘triple negative breast cancer’ being two of the major drivers of early deaths.
Of the 30,000 potential lives lost, five percent are predicted to be women aged 20 – 44, 28 percent are predicted to be aged 44 – 64, 35 percent are predicted to be aged 65 – 79 and 32 percent are predicted to be 80 and over.
The nine percent of women who die within five years equates to almost 1,800 from those diagnosed this year alone, the equivalent of the population of Australian tourism hot-spot, Brunswick Heads. Breast cancer remains the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia and 1 in 7 women will be diagnosed in their lifetime (up from 1 in 8 just last year) – almost 20,000 will be diagnosed this year alone.
NBCF has outlined a continued focus and investment in research that will have an impact on the lives of women diagnosed, including projects focused on hard to treat breast cancers such as metastatic and triple negative breast cancer, as one of the ways to shift the percentage of women who reach the five-year survival mark from 91 to 100 percent. Reducing this nine percent is a crucial step towards our goal of Zero Deaths from breast cancer by 2030. Both focus areas rendered major new discoveries this month from NBCF-funded projects.
A new study from scientists at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research has uncovered a novel treatment approach for women with treatment-resistant oestrogen receptor positive (ER+) breast cancer. ER+ tumours account for approximately 70% of breast cancer cases, and unfortunately around one third of them will develop resistance to the standard anti-hormone therapies.
“This study is another demonstration of how research underpins new cancer therapies. Our hope is to translate these findings into clinical trials, and ultimately make an impact on patient outcomes,” said NBCF-funded researcher Associate Professor Elgene Lim, one of the study leads.
As a completely community-funded organisation, NBCF’s dedication to breast cancer research relies solely on Australian donations and invests all donations in its goal to reach zero deaths from breast cancer by 2030.
NBCF has invested $181 million in 557 research projects to date and provided extension funding in 2020 to research projects impacted by COVID-19, supporting 53 salaries over 38 grants.
Professor Sarah Hosking, CEO National Breast Cancer Foundation Australia, said “The new culminative impact figures of breast cancer deaths show that supporting the final nine percent of women to meet the five-year survival rate is a national responsibility. 2020 has been an exceedingly challenging year, but we won’t allow the financial impacts of COVID-19 to deter us from our goal to reach Zero Deaths from breast cancer by 2030. We want to thank our supporters now, more than ever, for helping us to continue funding the critical research which can make this a reality.”
To shine a light on the final nine percent of women yet to reach the five-year survival rate, NBCF has teamed up with iconic landmarks across the country to light up pink throughout breast cancer awareness months. Some landmarks going pink for October, include:
- Bolte Bridge, Melbourne
- Federation Square, Melbourne
- Melbourne Town Hall, Melbourne
- Viterra Silos, South Australia
- Marina Mirage Sails, Gold Coast
- Sir Leo Hirschler Bridge, Brisbane
- M4 Tunnel, Sydney
- Crowne Hotel, Perth
- Bell Tower, Perth
- Optus Stadium, Perth
Help stop deaths from breast cancer by donating to NBCF.