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The Metastatic Breast Cancer Conversation: Lets Talk

Experts: more must be done locally and nationally to help those living with metastatic breast cancer

October 23, 2014


October 23, 2014


ALBANY, N.Y./ Oct 23, 2014—Medical experts, advocacy groups and patients in three states came together Thursday in a live, multi-state interactive forum to discuss the unique needs and circumstances for those living with Stage IV, or Metastatic Breast Cancer (MBC)—a disease from which nearly 40,000 people in the U.S. die from every year.

 A recent survey shows a wide gap in society’s understanding of how metastatic breast cancer differs from early stage breast cancer — from believing that MBC can be cured, to believing breast cancer progresses simply because the patient either didn’t receive the right treatment or didn’t take the proper preventative measures.

 “With today’s forum we took an important step in correcting the misperceptions of metastatic breast cancer, which unlike early stage breast cancer, has no cure,” said Dr. Judy Salerno, M.D., M.S., president and CEO of the Susan G. Komen breast cancer organization. “From doctors, to caretakers, to families and friends, it’s clear that we must do a better job of understanding the emotional and psychosocial needs of these patients and not just their physical needs.”

 A recent study released by the Metastatic Breast Cancer Alliance, which represents 29 cancer organizations, found that while billions of dollars have been invested in breast cancer research grants since 2000, a very small percentage of that (just 7 %) was focused on MBC research.

 “More funds need to be allocated to research that’s MBC-specific,” said Dr. Marc Hurlbert, chairman of the Metastatic Breast Cancer Alliance & executive director of the Avon Foundation Breast Cancer Crusade. “Additionally, it’s imperative that we address things like quality of life research, and research that assesses the reach and impact of programs and services across all ethnic groups and socioeconomic communities.”

 According to studies, one in three women—30 percent—diagnosed with early stage breast cancer will later develop metastatic breast cancer.

 "When someone is diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer, it's overwhelming," said Shirley Mertz, president of the Metastatic Breast Cancer Network, who lives with the disease and is in constant treatment.  "As patients try to process this devastating diagnosis, they need information to empower them to be part of their treatment decision making process and support and resources to help them navigate the challenges they face each day."

 Salerno, Hurlbert and Mertz participated in a videoconference panel discussion this morning from Boston, Albany and Chicago, where they addressed these issues and took questions from those living with MBC.

 During an afternoon session with local advocates in Albany, the needs and concerns of those living with MBC in New York were specifically addressed.

 “It is critical for our members and associates to hear from both the national experts on the concerns of the metastatic breast cancer community, as well as those fighting the disease here in the greater Albany area,” said Victoria Roggen, Executive Director of the Susan G. Komen Foundation of Northeastern New York.  “Reaching these patients and positively impacting their lives and treatment starts right here at home.”