Women are living longer after breast cancer but simply surviving is not enough, Pamela Goldberg, Chief Executive, Breast Cancer Campaign, said today.
Speaking at the second Breast Cancer Campaign Scientific Conference in London, Pamela Goldberg outlined how earlier diagnosis, new treatments, and increased awareness of symptoms has resulted in breast cancer moving towards becoming a chronic but controllable condition.
"The picture is completely different for women today than in the 70's", Pamela Goldberg told a conference of around 300 delegates today.
"Thirty years ago only half of women with breast cancer survived for more than five years. Today that figure is around 80 per cent.
"However, some of these treatments like radiotherapy and chemotherapy have toxic and debilitating side effects which have a profound impact on their quality of life, every single day. This may partly explain why breast cancer still remains the biggest health fear for women."
Fatigue, body image and early menopause leading to childlessness are just some of the problems faced by breast cancer survivors that can have a real impact on their psychological well-being. In some cases fatigue is so severe that giving up work can seem the only option, according to the charity.
Carefully targeted research will play an important role in improving quality of life and problems faced by women after breast cancer. Key research gaps and priorities for the greatest potential impact on patients have already been identified and projects to fill the gaps are being funded by Breast Cancer Campaign.
Mr Ian Pearson, Minister of State for Science and Innovation opened the Conference, saying, "Breast Cancer Campaign is to be congratulated on funding cutting edge research which has already made a significant impact on those affected by breast cancer. The challenge now is to continue to make progress, not only in increasing survival rates but also by improving the quality of life for the 44,000 women diagnosed with breast cancer every year.
"The Government is absolutely committed to supporting the work of scientists, like those funded by Breast Cancer Campaign, in their quest for excellence, which will ultimately lead to greater patient benefit."
Pamela Goldberg continued, "The search for more effective and targeted therapies is constant but breast cancer research encompasses so much more than new treatments. While our mission is to beat breast cancer, we also aim to better understand the impact that breast cancer has on people's lives and how best to support them.
"If we co-ordinate our resources to target the priorities in breast cancer research, we can ensure an environment of scientific excellence with the best possible chance of change. It is now the responsibility of breast cancer researchers, not just in the UK but around the world, to fill the gaps we know exist. The future of medical research is in their hands along with our lives."
Keynote presentations were given by Dr Dennis Slamon, University of California, Professor Ashok Venkitaraman, University of Cambridge and Dr Penelope Hopwood, University of Manchester with abstracts from some of the country's leading breast cancer scientists including Dr Jo Morris and Dr John Maher, King's College, London.
Notes to Editors:
Speakers are available for interview. Please contact Claire Learner at Breast Cancer Campaign on 020 7749 3705 or 07736 313698.
Abstracts can be found at www.breast-cancer-research.com
1. Ipsos MORI carried out a survey last autumn for Breast Cancer Campaign among a nationally representative sample of 1,000 women aged 15 and over throughout the UK
2. Breast Cancer Research 2008 is the only breast cancer specific scientific conference in the UK in 2008 and takes place at The Royal Society, 6-9 Carlton House Terrace, London, SW1Y 5AG from 10am - 5.20pm on Tuesday 13 May
3. Breast Cancer Campaign's mission is to beat breast cancer by funding innovative world-class research to understand how the disease develops, leading to improved diagnosis, treatment, prevention and cure
4. The charity currently funds 107 projects worth over £13 million in 50 locations across the UK
5. Breast Cancer Campaign recently announced it aims to extend its research funding to the Republic of Ireland
6. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK and accounts for nearly one in three of all cancers in women
7. Every year in the UK over 44,000 women and 300 men are diagnosed with breast cancer, and around 12,500 women and 100 men will die from the disease
8. Breast Cancer Campaign's latest publication:
Evaluation of the current knowledge limitations in breast cancer research
Thompson A, Brennan K, Cox A, Gee J, Harcourt D, Harris A, Harvie M, Holen I, Howell A, Nicholson R, Steel M, Streuli C, Breast Cancer Campaign Gap Analysis Meeting (2
November 2006, London, UK)
Breast Cancer Research 2008, 10:R26
9. For more information about Breast Cancer Campaign visit: www.breastcancercampaign.org
10. Breast Cancer Research (www.breast-cancer-research.com) is a high quality international, peer-reviewed journal. Breast Cancer Research publishes original research, reviews and commentaries in all areas of biology and medicine relevant to breast cancer, including normal mammary gland biology, with special emphasis on the genetic, biochemical, and cellular basis of breast cancer. All research articles published in the journal are open access; commentaries, reviews and reports over two years old are free to access, prior to this they require a subscription. The journal is edited by Lewis Chodosh (USA) and has an Impact Factor of 4.16.
11. BioMed Central (http://www.