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February 14, 2020

Pathway to protection: Target for zero breast cancer deaths by 2030 outlined in new strategy

2020 has marked the new decade and the commencement of the 10-year countdown to our ambitious goal of Zero Deaths by 2030. We have launched a recommended research investment roadmap which outlines key areas they believe will have the biggest impact to stopping deaths over the next 10 years.

Breast cancer is 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. Although Australia has a 91% survival rate (largely thanks to research), 9% of those diagnosed still die within five years – which equates to 8 deaths per day or over 3,000 per year. NBCF has identified the research areas which need to be addressed if we are to reach zero deaths from breast cancer by 2030, which will require investment of more than $100 million:

  • Gap analysis – A full and comprehensive dataset analysis between medical facilities and clinics that link patient information in Australia will identify why some patients with breast cancer don’t live past the five-year survival rate. Insights from this analysis will help to inform research investment into the highest priority areas helping to improve survival rates.
  • Immunotherapies –   An emerging area of research that aims to enhance the immune system to kill cancer cells in the body.
  • Precision medicine – Treatment is evolving towards more personalised therapies. These medicines aim to target each individual tumour to get the best treatment outcomes.
  • Predictive testing and prevention – 1 in 4 breast cancers are potentially preventable. Improving diagnostics and screening programs, reducing breast cancer recurrence and a deeper understanding of risk factors will enable great preventative options.

Professor Sarah Hosking, CEO National Breast Cancer Foundation Australia, said “2020 marks a significant milestone for NBCF as we start our 10-year countdown towards 2030 and our target of a world without breast cancer deaths. No-one should have to lose a loved one to this devastating disease and we are working tirelessly to change Australia’s future for the better. Our research investments are made with a focus on our goal of zero deaths by 2030 and are guided by Australia’s leading breast cancer researchers and clinicians, as well as people affected by breast cancer.”

NBCF has begun funding Professor David Roder from the University of South Australia, in addition to already funding projects in the areas identified above. He will lead a gap analysis project across the country.

Professor David Roder

“There is currently no data coordination between medical facilities and clinics that link patient information, tumour characteristics and outcomes for breast cancer. This means it is hard to find who is most at risk of dying from the disease. Professor David Roder has already started the first step of the pathway and is currently collating datasets from hospitals and clinics across Australia to identify factors like location demographics or socioeconomic conditions which can impact survival outcomes,” Professor Hosking added.

“In order to find the individuals with a higher mortality rate we need to understand who they are, where they come from and how they live. This information will help to provide actions to improve health service delivery to those who need it most and make survival something that is accessible to all.”

The news comes as eminent Australian designer Camilla Franks published a heartfelt letter to her future self about the need for investment in breast cancer research. The designer was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer in 2018 and had chemotherapy, a double mastectomy and breast reconstruction. She is now on the road to recovery from the disease.

Camilla, diagnosed 2018, with her daughter, Luna

“In 2020, we still lose 8 women to breast cancer every day. That’s 8 too many,” said Franks.

“This is a reality that women shouldn’t have to face, and the time is now to fight this fight for good. With every fibre of my being, I write this letter with the hope that in 2030 there are no victims, no survivors – just no breast cancer deaths at all.”