Under embargo until 12:01am September 5, 2022
This Women’s Health Week, Cancer Council Queensland is shining light on their new research that has provided greater clarity on the survival benefits that screening has for breast cancer patients.
In a new report titled, ‘A prognostic survival model for women diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in Queensland, Australia,’ contributing researchers confirmed the prognostic importance of stage, grade, and clinical subtype of breast cancers, in addition to highlighting the independent survival benefit of breast cancers being diagnosed through screening.
Prognostic models can help inform cancer patients about their future health outcome and assist the decision making of clinicians and patients regarding management and treatment of the cancer.
In contrast to previous studies considering survival following treatment, this study aimed to develop a prognostic model to better understand why there is a large variation in survival from breast cancer from the time of diagnosis.
Cancer Council Queensland researchers collaborated with Professor Jeff Dunn, Professor Suzanne Chambers and Dr Chris Pyke, and developed a prognostic model to quantify breast cancer-specific survival at the time of diagnosis using a range of information from the Breast Cancer Outcomes Study (BCOS), a large prospective cohort of over 3,300 women diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in Queensland.
Speaking to the study results, lead author and Cancer Council Queensland researcher Professor Peter Baade noted that the cohort study provided novel insights that could not have been obtained through more typical cancer registry-based analyses.
“The prognostic model highlighted that the key factors in predicting poorer survival are the cancer being diagnosed at a more advanced stage, higher tumour grade, ‘triple negative’ breast cancers, and those tumours detected because of symptoms rather than through routine screening,” Mr Baade said.
“Further research needs to be conducted to understand what additional factors contribute to the substantial unexplained variation in survival outcomes.”
“These results emphasise that screening is one of the most effective ways to detect early signs of breast cancer,” he said.
Rockhampton local and breast cancer survivor, Kate MacGregor, knows all too well the heartbreak of being diagnosed with breast cancer at a later stage.
Kate was just 26 years old, and 28 weeks pregnant with her first child when she was diagnosed with stage 3, triple negative invasive ductal carcinoma.
18 weeks into her pregnancy, Kate noticed two lumps on her breast but was initially reassured by her doctor that what she was experiencing was normal.
“I shared my concerns with a midwife who urged me to get an ultrasound and not long after, I received my diagnosis. I was completely shocked and wished it could have been diagnosed earlier,” Kate said.
“My oncologist told me if I was to continue my pregnancy without chemotherapy, there was a strong chance I would have less than five years to live and urged me to consider having my baby at 32 weeks”.
Flooded with emotions and finding out that ‘triple negative’ breast cancers predict a lower chance of survival, Kate was determined to survive for her family.
“Quinn was born via c-section and a week later I began the brutal journey of chemotherapy, followed by a double mastectomy and radiation therapy,” she said.
Now in remission, Kate has welcomed a second baby, and is grateful for every day she has with her family.
“It’s because of research projects like this one that I am alive today, and if I have learned anything it’s that it’s always good to get a second opinion, listen to your body and get screened early.
“Through research like this, we hope to ensure less Queenslanders are faced with the same journey as Kate’s.” Professor Baade concluded.
Every year 4651 Queensland women are diagnosed with a breast or gynaecological cancer. Mothers, daughters, sisters, women like Kate.
Cancer Council Queensland’s Pink Ribbon campaign helps provide lifesaving research, prevention programs and support services for those affected by women’s cancers.
Queenslanders can show their support this Women’s Health Week by registering for Pink Ribbon fundraising here: https://www.doitforcancer.com.au/host-a-pink-fundraiser
The research ‘A prognostic survival model for women diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in Queensland, Australia’ has been published in Breast Cancer Research and Treatment and can be accessed here: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10549-022-06682-5
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To access pre-recorded grabs and images with Cancer Council Queensland General Manager, Research, Professor Joanne Aitken and Kate MacGregor please see DropBox link.
For more information, or interviews, please contact:
Cancer Council Queensland Coordinator, PR and Social Media, Erin Saroglia – ErinSaroglia@cancerqld.org.au | 0498 018 419 or 3634 5211
Cancer Council Queensland Senior Coordinator, PR and Social Media, Grace Lingard – GraceLingard@cancerqld.org.au | 0447 193 468 or 3634 5112