New report highlights delays in diagnosing secondary breast cancer

1 min read

The charity Breast Cancer Now has today released a new report into the avoidable delays that patients face in being diagnosed with secondary breast cancer. 

Breast cancer can sometimes ‘spread’ (metastasise) to other parts of the body, occasionally the brain. Once breast cancer has spread to somewhere else in the body it is referred to as secondary breast cancer.

If left untreated, secondary breast cancer continues to spread and symptoms are likely to worsen and have a greater impact on daily life. 

The problem highlighted by the report is that many patients have to really push the health service for a diagnosis of secondary breast cancer. For example, the report cites that nearly 25% of patients had to visit their GP three or more time before being diagnosed with the return and spread of their condition.

To minimise these delays in diagnosis, the report calls for:

  • better support for GPs such as online training and for alerts of the red-flag symptoms of secondary breast cancer to be included and used in all IT software used by GPs.
  • all primary breast cancer patients to be given full information on the signs of secondary breast cancer as part of follow-up support after treatment.

Brain Tumour Research welcomes this report and congratulates Breast Cancer Now on its work in highlighting this issue, which will only become more relevant to the brain tumour community in the future. Around 10% of those with stage 4 breast cancer find that it has spread to the brain. The overall number of people with brain cancer metastases that originate from the breast is likely to continue rising as a consequence of more people surviving their initial breast cancer due to medical advances (breast cancer has benefitted from sustained research investment for a number of decades, yielding dramatic improvements in survival).

Breast Cancer Now provides more information on secondary breast cancer in the brain and details of their new campaign, called ‘The Unsurvivors’, on the need for better secondary breast cancer diagnosis.

Brain Tumour Research is keen to hear more from those whose breast cancer has spread to their brain. If you have been diagnosed with a brain tumour that has spread from breast cancer then please use this form to tell us your story

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