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Disparity of care still exists for Australians with metastatic breast cancer

Health Industry Hub | October 14, 2019 |

Sunday October 13 marked Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day, and Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA) is shining a light on the challenges experienced by people with metastatic breast cancer.

Metastatic breast cancer is when the cancer spreads from the breast to other parts of the body, such as the liver, lungs or bones. It is not curable, but is treatable, and approximately 9,000 Australians are living with the disease.

BCNA member Claire Turner says the difference between what was offered to her when she was diagnosed with early breast cancer and what she received when she was diagnosed with metastatic disease was stark.

‘When I was diagnosed with early breast cancer, the services were great. I had parking vouchers, money towards a wig, help with my electricity bill and a Breast Care Nurse to help me navigate my journey.

‘But when I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer, my world fell apart. The support just wasn’t there. I was in hospital for six days for emergency radiotherapy, with no contact from a Breast Care Nurse to explain the services available to me.’

Claire said the lack of financial support has continued through her treatment, despite being unable to work full time due to treatment side effects and frequent hospital visits. She described services for people with metastatic breast cancer as hit and miss.

 ‘I’d really like to see coordination of what’s available for people like me with metastatic breast cancer. We desperately need extra support at a time when we are most vulnerable.’

BCNA Chief Executive Officer Kirsten Pilatti says people with metastatic breast cancer often feel the disease is misunderstood.

‘As survival rates continue to rise, it’s easy to forget that an estimated 3,000 Australians will die from breast cancer this year. People living with metastatic breast cancer do so with an uncertainty about prognosis, difficulty explaining the condition to others and limited access to supportive care.’

‘Metastatic breast cancer continues to be poorly understood. It’s an important time to shine a light on this subject and disparity of care that exists for those living with metastatic disease.

‘BCNA is focused on providing women and men with metastatic breast cancer with the best information and advocating for improved access to new and innovative cancer drugs. We continue to be a voice for these women and men ensuring they have access to the best treatment and care.’

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