Confusion over secondary breast cancer
There is widespread misunderstanding about what secondary breast cancer is and how it affects women, according to new research just published by the cancer organisation Breast Cancer Care.
Over half of the 2,000 adults polled did not know what secondary breast cancer was or that it is life-threatening.
Around 36,000 people in the UK are living with secondary breast cancer, but in many cases they are not receiving the quality of care given to those with primary breast cancer.
A diagnosis of secondary breast cancer means that the cancer cells have spread from the primary cancer in the breast to other parts of the body.
When this happens, the cancer can no longer be cured, although it can be treated and controlled, sometimes for years.
Samia al Qadhi, Breast Cancer Care’s Chief Executive, said that many of the women with secondary breast cancer supported by her charity experience “a very real sense of isolation” in addition to gaps in care.
She believes that this situation will continue until there is greater public understanding of the condition.
In a significant number of cases, women with secondary breast cancer can continue to live full lives for many years, but only if they get the right support and clinical management.
Yet the research suggests the majority believe secondary breast cancer is much more debilitating. Over half – 54 per cent of those polled – didn’t know if someone with the condition would be able to work, while 43 per cent either didn’t know or mistakenly thought that people with secondary breast cancer are unable to go on holiday.
October 13 was Secondary Breast Cancer Awareness Day.
‘A Day in the Life,’ Breast Cancer Care’s annual campaign, this year presented the day-to-day experiences of women living with secondary breast cancer, as well as providing information about the condition and how to get support.
In the long term, Breast Cancer Care aims to ensure all women with secondary breast cancer get the best possible standard of care. Raising awareness is an important step in that campaign.
To take action to raise standards for those living with secondary breast cancer, or to find out more, click here.