I am writing to urge you to act now about metastatic breast cancer (also known as secondary breast cancer). Metastatic breast cancer is cancer that has spread from the primary site (breast or armpit) to the lungs, liver, brain or bone.
Awareness campaigns and screening over the last twenty years have improved detection of primary breast cancer and many women and men are now diagnosed earlier than ever which is great news. However, there is still no cure for secondary breast cancer. Treatments can extend the lives of people with metastatic breast cancer but ultimately it will kill them. The median life expectancy for someone with metastatic breast cancer is 2-3 years (source: metup.org).
522,000 people die every year from breast cancer worldwide (source: metup.org). Every year, around 11,400 people die from breast cancer in the UK (source: breastcancercare.org.uk).
This is not a disease that will be cured by a pink ribbon.
I am asking you to act now to lobby for more research and funding into finding a cure for metastatic breast cancer, and all metastatic cancers. The Public Health England Board Plan 2017-2020 outlines important work in screening, early diagnosis, patient experience and survivorship. This focus needs to be matched by research and funding to find a cure for metastatic cancer. Whilst any progress on reducing the incidence of cancer is to be welcomed wholeheartedly, this does not help the people living right now with metastatic breast cancer. Also, there needs to be standardisation of guidance so that all women and men who are treated for primary breast cancer are told about the signs and symptoms of metastatic disease so that they can be well-informed and access treatment as quickly as possible if their cancer spreads.
Thank you for your attention to this important issue.