Breast cancer is the most diagnosed cancer in women worldwide, with an estimated 1.7 million new cases diagnosed per year and half a million deaths annually.[1, 2] Breast cancer occurs when abnormal cells in the breast multiply uncontrollably to form a tumour. While most cases of breast cancer occur in women it does occur in men too, although this is rare (about 1% of cases).
Breast cancer which has spread to other parts of the body is referred to as metastatic or advanced breast cancer. Common sites for metastatic tumours to grow are the bones, lymph nodes, lungs, and liver, meaning that signs and symptoms of the disease can vary greatly in each patient. Advanced Breast Cancer (ABC) comprises inoperable Locally Advanced Breast Cancer (LABC) and Metastatic Breast Cancer (mBC). mBC is also known as stage IV or secondary breast cancer.
Treatment for the disease can include chemotherapy, endocrine therapy, biological therapy, radiation and in some cases also surgery. Advanced and metastatic breast cancer is currently incurable, but treatable, with a median survival rate of 2-3 years, although variable according to the subtype of ABC.
New technologies should help to accelerate advances in treatment.
With the advances in science, technology and communication tools, it is imperative that the cancer community around the globe joins forces to raise awareness of the disease and lobby for better outcomes for people living with ABC.
The ABC Global Alliance aim is to improve and extend the lives of women and men living with ABC in all countries worldwide and to fight for a cure.
- WHO. 2017. Breast cancer: prevention and control. Available at http://www.who.int/cancer/detection/breastcancer/en/index1.html [Accessed 24 February 2017]
- International Agency for Research on Cancer. Breast cancer: estimated incidence, mortality and prevalence worldwide in 2012. Available at http://globocan.iarc.fr/Pages/fact_sheets_cancer.aspx [Accessed 08 March]
- American Cancer Society. What are the Key Statistics About Breast Cancer in Men. Available at https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer-in-men/about/key-statistics.html [Accessed 24 February 2017]
- Cancer Research UK. Symptoms of Advanced Breast Cancer. Available at: http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/breast-cancer/advanced/symptoms [Accessed 1 March 2017]
- Cardoso et al. 2014. ESO-ESMO 2nd international consensus guidelines for advanced breast cancer (ABC2). Annals of Oncology 25 (1871-1888)
- Cancer Research UK. Breast Cancer Treatment. Available at http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/breast-cancer/treatment [Last accessed 07 April 2017]
- Cardoso F, Costa A et al. 2017. ESO-ESMO 3rd international consensus guidelines for advanced breast Cancer (ABC3). Simultaneous Publication. Breast 31:244-259 and Annals of Oncology 28 (1): 16-33
- Global Status of Advanced/Metastatic Breast Cancer 2005e2015 Decade Report. Available at: www.breastcancervision.com and www.abc-lisbon.org [Accessed 24 February 2017]