Komen vows to drive breakthroughs for the most-deadly breast cancers and educate those who believe breast cancers are easily treated or always curable
Susan G. Komen®, the world’s leading breast cancer organization, today urged the breast cancer community, including policymakers, researchers, clinicians and stakeholders across the health care spectrum, to join Komen in making metastatic breast cancer (MBC) a top priority for public policy, research funding and ongoing education. In recognition of Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day on October 13, Komen announced its commitment to create an MBC Fund specifically designed to spur scientific discoveries and support those women and men living with MBC today, building on Komen’s $210 million investment in metastatic breast cancer research. For more information on the MBC Fund and how to support it, visit www.komen.org/MBC.
“More than 42,000 people in the U.S. are expected to die from breast cancer this year alone, most from metastatic breast cancer – that is unacceptable. Komen is committed to reducing the current number of breast cancer deaths by 50 percent in the U.S. by 2026,” said Paula Schneider, Komen’s CEO and a breast cancer survivor who also lost her mother to MBC. “Together, we must do whatever it takes to save lives by investing in research that will help us better understand metastatic breast cancer, along with providing support for people living with metastatic breast cancer and for their families.”
What is Metastatic Breast Cancer?
- Metastatic breast cancer – also called Stage IV breast cancer – is the most advanced stage of breast cancer. Metastatic breast cancer is incurable and has spread beyond the breast to other organs in the body, most often the bones, lungs, liver and/or brain. Of note:
- There are currently more than 154,000 women and an unknown number of men estimated to be living with MBC in the U.S. today.
- MBC is responsible for most of the more than 42,000 breast cancer deaths expected in the U.S. each year.
- About 94 percent of people with MBC were treated for an earlier stage of breast cancer that recurred, sometimes many years later.
- Only 6 percent of women (and 8 percent of men) diagnosed with breast cancer have metastatic breast cancer when they are first diagnosed.
- There are no cures – yet – for MBC. Current treatments focus on extending life and improving the quality of life.
Komen has funded more than $210 million in MBC research since our founding, supporting more than 500 research grants, including more than 50 clinical trials focused on MBC. Komen’s funding of metastatic breast cancer research has grown to represent 70 percent of its annual research investment – up from 50 percent just two years ago. The organization has been prioritizing its research grants program to fund research focused on MBC – a focus that will continue this year.
In June, Komen announced a request for research grant applications focused on applying liquid biopsy technology to MBC. A liquid biopsy is a test done on a sample of blood to detect cancer cells or pieces of DNA from tumor cells that are circulating in the blood. If scientists can unlock the potential of liquid biopsies for metastatic breast cancer, doctors may then be able to use small samples of blood to detect metastatic disease even before symptoms arise, monitor metastatic breast cancer treatment response and adjust therapies, and develop more personalized treatment plans for metastatic breast cancer patients.
“While breast cancer outcomes have improved, we must find better treatments to extend lives and find the cures,” said Komen’s Chief Scientific Advisor, George Sledge, M.D., Professor of Medicine, and Chief of the Division of Oncology in the Department of Medicine at Stanford University. “Only research cures cancer. We must understand the biology of breast cancer, especially the process of metastasis, if we are to develop drugs to slow, stop and prevent it. Komen invests in research that will help us better understand metastatic breast cancer, including why some forms of breast cancer are more aggressive than others and why some breast cancers are resistant to current treatment options. We urge other funders to join us.”
Helping People Living with Metastatic Breast Cancer Today
To help fuel this commitment, we’re establishing an MBC Fund specifically designed to enable our work to spur scientific discoveries and support those living with MBC today. We can and we must continue to discover ways to improve the quality of life and care of those living with metastatic breast cancer, as well as discover new, more effective treatments that will prolong their lives, so they have more time with the ones they love, until we find the cures to end this disease forever. For more information on the MBC Fund and how to support it, visit www.komen.org/MBC
“We also need to help those living with metastatic breast cancer today live better lives, longer,” said Schneider. “We can and we must support ways to improve quality of life, while we search for more effective treatments that will give MBC patients more time with the ones they love.”
Kelly Shanahan, a former physician and current metastatic breast cancer patient and advocate, added, “Komen has stepped up its commitment to discovering breakthroughs for metastatic breast cancer and supporting those living with the disease today. They are reaching out to the metastatic breast cancer community for input, investing more funds in metastasis research, and educating people about metastatic breast cancer through their MBC Impact Series. By working together, we can get closer to the goal of nobody dying from metastatic breast cancer. I hope that other individuals, organizations and policymakers join us in putting an end to this devastating disease.”
Komen’s work to conquer breast cancer doesn’t end with its leading research investment or patient support programs. Komen mobilizes advocates across the country to support increases in government research funding, as well as federal and state legislation that would remove barriers to care, particularly for those living with MBC. These policies would ensure metastatic patients are able to receive the treatments they require without unneeded red tape or being forced into bankruptcy.
Komen supports those living with MBC through a variety of patient-centered services, including:
- Education: Hosting more than 26 educational events across the country over the past year through its MBC Impact Series – many of which were live streamed so that people could benefit from the information regardless of their ability to travel. Over the next year the MBC Impact Series will include more than 55 events. In addition, Komen will provide educational resources to people living with early stage breast cancer about the risk of recurrence and the signs and symptoms of recurrence to recognize and to report to their doctor.
- Support: More than 700 people living with MBC received psychosocial support through Komen’s Breast Care and Clinical Trial Information Helplines last year. Anyone in need of these services can call 1-877 GO KOMEN (1-877-465-6636).
- Financial Assistance: More than 900 people living with MBC received financial assistance through Komen’s Treatment Assistance Program last year. For information about this program, call 1-877 GO KOMEN (1-877-465-6636).
- Advocacy: Komen mobilized advocates across the country to support more federal research funding, as well as federal and state policy changes that would remove barriers to care, particularly for those living with MBC. Become an Advocacy Insider to join the fight here: https://p2a.co/cgXisY6.