Metastatic Breast Cancer in 2017

 It’s been an exciting year for MBC advocacy. As 2017 comes to an end, we look back at what has been achieved over the past twelve months.  Key areas of focus have included: education and giving women with MBC a voice in policy making and advocating their needs to policymakers.  Also, this year we have seen great strides forward in patient empowerment.

  1. Education

How do lemons and dandelions improve communication and awareness of breast cancer? Worldwide Breast Cancer launched an innovative breast health education campaign to inform communities of the 12 tell-tale signs and symptoms of cancer. With the help of 12 lemons, the Know your Lemons campaign became a social media viral phenomenon in January 2017.  Currently 1000+ global education partners in over 70 countries are using the campaign in 17 languages. The non-profit organisation also developed another visual communication aid, called the dandelion toolkit, which uses the metaphor of a dandelion to explain staging, subtype, and treatment options in metastatic breast cancer (MBC).

  1. Advocacy

In June 2017 EUROPA DONNA organised the 1st Metastatic Breast Cancer Advocacy Conference, attracting 60 metastatic breast cancer advocates from 34 countries to network, gain valuable training and discuss MBC advocacy strategies. During the conference, Deputy CEO Karen Benn recalled the European Parliament written declaration ‘On the Fight Against Breast Cancer in the EU’ which calls on Member States to ensure people with MBC have access to, and are treated in, a Specialist Breast Unit (SBU) and that their ongoing needs for care and psychosocial services are coordinated and supported by the SBU. In November, the ABC Global Alliance held its first meeting in Lisbon, bringing together stakeholders and projects from across the MBC pathway with the aim to improve and extend the lives of women and men living with MBC worldwide.

  1. Policy

October 2017 saw a multi-stakeholder collaboration, including Lilly, release a policy roadmap on addressing MBC. It pinpointed four key focus areas, of which one called for holistic patient support systems, and the need for shared decision-making opportunities for MBC patients. In addition, it calls for recognition and support for informal carers to cope with the burden of the disease.

It’s great to observe the progress made this year in advocating for better education and policymaking on MBC. Nevertheless, more needs to be done to increase understanding of MBC among policymakers and ensure patients are at the heart of decision making. We look forward to making yet more strides towards these goals in 2018!