Target is no deaths
NIL BREAST CANCER DEATHS BY 2030 IS AIM
The National Breast Cancer Foundation has set an ambitious target of zero deaths from breast cancer by 2030.
Earlier this year as the first Towards 2030 Report Card examined how Australia was tracking towards the organisation’s goal, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic was clear.
Informed by 64 of Australia’s leading health and medical researchers, the report card highlighted the detrimental impact of the pandemic on clinical research and patient outcomes, with many top breast cancer researchers reporting a year’s worth of lost developments.
According to the report, the pandemic has put significant pressure on funding, which was outlined as the number one constraint for breast cancer researchers (93 per cent).
The NBCF said achieving zero deaths from breast cancer by 2030 would require an investment of at least $100 million over the next nine years.
Early in the pandemic, NBCF introduced the COVID-19 Extension Fund, which offered four months’ extension to the research timelines for 38 grants and support for the salaries of 53 researchers, enabling them to see their research through to completion.
More than 90 per cent of researchers reported the NBCF’s COVID-19 Extension Fund was innovative, and supported them when they needed it most, and was appropriately reactive to the circumstances.
All researchers strongly agreed the NBCF provided an essential source of funding for breast cancer research and two-thirds of respondents confirmed their NBCFfunded research had contributed to improved fundamental knowledge and understanding of breast cancer in the past 10 years.
Respondents believed that insufficient funding in the research sector would result in many worldclass researchers leaving the industry permanently.
Since the NBCF’s inception in 1994, it has invested $183 million into 572 game-changing research projects. These projects have contributed to the 15 per cent increase in the five-year breast cancer survival rate during the past 27 years, thanks to improvements in prevention, detection and treatment.
This equates to nearly 47,000 lives saved thanks to funding from the generous Australian community.
The report card also delves into how the NBCF is addressing the challenges and opportunities to reach zero deaths by 2030 and reports on its impact through funding research on breast cancer outcomes.
New technologies including artificial intelligence, liquid biopsies, breast cancer vaccines and personalised mammography are currently being investigated but limited funding is decelerating progress and the COVID-19 pandemic has, in some ways, slowed the advancement of some of these new approaches.
In the research area of detection, NBCF-funded researcher Professor Nehmat Houssami led a landmark Australian pilot trial of 3D mammography (known as tomosynthesis).
“The NBCF-funded research showed higher breast cancer detection rates than the standard 2D mammography, which demonstrates new technology has the potential to be more accurate, to improve detection rates and ultimately increase survival outcomes for Australians diagnosed with breast cancer,” Prof Houssami said.
This year alone, it is estimated that 20,000 Australians will be diagnosed with breast cancer. Without adequate funding, almost 30,000 lives could be lost to breast cancer by 2030.
The five-year survival rate for breast cancer has increased from 76 per cent to 91 per cent since 1994.
One of the biggest challenges for the NBCF has been fundraising, with many “pink” events unable to be held due to the pandemic.