12 June 2012
Over one in five breast cancer patients (22.6%) will get recurrence according to new Macmillan Cancer Support research.
For the first time ever, this groundbreaking study puts a number on just how many breast cancer patients may see their breast cancer return. Prior to this study, data were only available on diagnosis and survival of breast cancer.
The preliminary results also showed that a half of those patients (51%) who developed recurrent disease lived for over three years disease-free and on average* survived for at least one year after their recurrence, with some surviving (5%) at least 10 years. This emerging research is to be presented at the National Cancer Intelligence Network (NCIN) conference in Birmingham on 14th-16th June.
Dr Adam Glaser, one of the study's principal investigators at St James's Institute of Oncology, Leeds, says:
“The aim of this study is to begin to understand more about how long people may survive without recurrence, how long they may survive if cancer does return, the cost of each stage of cancer treatment, and how we can best plan services for cancer patients. These findings are invaluable in helping us understand just how many breast cancer patients are experiencing cancer for the first or second time.”
Jane Maher, Chief Medical Officer of Macmillan Cancer Support, says:
“Not only do these women have to deal with the shock of their breast cancer returning, but also far too many are given very little practical or emotional support. The assumption being, they know what to expect from the first time they were treated.
“It is therefore essential that health professionals identify breast cancer recurrence early and take heed of this emerging evidence to better prepare breast cancer patients to help mitigate or cope with a recurrent disease. Macmillan Secondary Breast Cancer Nurses do just that, we need to see this as a priority across the NHS.”
Shonagh Eastwell, 40, from Aldershot, Surrey, who was supported by Jane Watts, a Macmillan Secondary Breast Cancer Nurse Specialist through her secondary breast cancer treatment**, says:
“I was devastated when I realised I had secondary breast cancer. I thought no-one is this unlucky. When I was introduced to Jane from Macmillan I was in shock. It hit me so much harder than the first time. She was fantastic and really understood how different it was for me this time round and how much more support I needed than when I was first diagnosed. I couldn’t have done it without her.”
The Macmillan team is here to support breast cancer patients every step of the way. For more information visit www.macmillan.org.uk or call 0808 808 00 00.
For further information, please contact:
Andrea Shufflebotham, Senior Media & PR Officer
0207 840 4689, (out of hours 07801 307068)
Notes to Editors:
This is preliminary research which is being showcased at the Joint UK Association of Cancer Registries (UKACR) & National Cancer Intelligence Network (NCIN) conference ‘Cancer Outcomes Conference’ 14th-16th June.
The research is led by Adam Glaser at St James Institute of Oncology, Leeds.
The author of the study is Lucy Walkington, Clinical Fellow, SpR Medical Oncology, St James Institute of Oncology, Leeds
* Median crude overall survival following first recurrence was 17.9 months (13.1-22.7 months). 1 year survival rate following first recurrence was 63%.
**Frimley Park Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Macmillan Secondary Breast Cancer Nurse Specialist service. Jane Watts is the Macmillan Secondary Breast Cancer Nurse at this service and supports women with recurrent breast cancer, from the moment a recurrence is suspected, through their treatment and where relevant through to living with controlled long term disease. The women are provided with tailored care plans designed specifically for patients with recurrence. The care plans may include how to access benefits, diet and lifestyle advice, emotional support and signposting to information.
 Walkington L. Patterns of breast cancer recurrence and associated health care costs of 1000 patients treated in Leeds: a longitudinal study. June 2012 – Submitted as a research abstract to the National Cancer Intelligence Network ‘Cancer Outcomes Conference’ 14th-16th June. 1,000 consecutive patients diagnosed with breast cancer (C50) from January 1999 were identified from local cancer records and Northern and Yorkshire Cancer Registration and Information Service (NYCRIS).
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