11/07/2019 - 14:51


11/07/2019 - 14:51


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Artist impression of the planned new BCRC-WA comprehensive centre to be located at Hollywood Private Hospital

Finding a cure for metastatic breast cancer is what drives Perth medical oncologist Professor Arlene Chan, a world leader when it comes to research into advanced breast disease.

Professor Chan runs the busiest breast cancer clinical trials unit in Australia at the Breast Cancer Research Centre-WA, located at Hollywood Private Hospital. The centre, founded by Professor Chan in 2000, is recognised globally for its ground-breaking breast cancer research. To date, at least 13 BCRC-WA trials have improved the way metastatic breast cancer is treated internationally. 

Professor Chan, who was made a Member of the Order of Australia for her services to breast cancer research this year, established BCRC-WA to provide high quality care to breast cancer patients while simultaneously conducting trials into the next generation of cancer drugs, ensuring her patients had access to the most advanced treatments.

While early stage breast cancer is the chief focus of most researchers internationally, BCRC-WA directs more than half of its research – 57 per cent – into metastatic cancer, that is, where breast cancer has metastasised in another part of the body, such as the brain or bones.

“For women diagnosed with metastatic or advanced breast cancer, they already have the odds stacked against them as there is currently no cure. However, access to trials treatments and providing best evidence-based care are helping women defy their predicted life expectancy”, Professor Chan said.

“For many years now, the average life expectancy for a patient with a metastatic diagnosis has been around two to three years, however we are seeing 15 per cent of our patients living beyond five years and five per cent are still going strong a decade later.” 

“Even five years ago this was unheard of. And it’s all down to research – striving for those ongoing advancements in cancer treatment and making them available to patients for free and years before they are available to the public.”

Research via clinical trials is the only way to find out which new approaches to cancer treatments work better than existing ones.

Professor Chan said BCRC-WA has more than 20 trials currently underway.

“Nearly 1100 of my patients have been involved in over 90 trials since I first established BCRC-WA. In that time, we were the world leading recruiter in one particular trial that found that a medication led to a 50% increase in survival rates. This medication has gone on to be a current standard of care for breast cancer patients throughout the world”, she said.

As well as being passionate about research, Professor Chan is equally passionate about patient care and wellbeing. This means ensuring patients have the best chance of survival as well as the best possible quality of life during treatment.

To this end, in an Australian first, BCRC-WA will also open a world class integrated treatment and research centre for breast cancer in 2020.

Professor Chan said the facility, anticipated to cost $5.8 million, will be a so called one stop shop for breast cancer patients in WA.

“Our vision is that the new centre will meet patients’ requirement for the essential cancer diagnosis and treatment, access to clinical trials for both early and metastatic patients, and to the broad range of support services they might need to tap into, from physiotherapists, psychologists and social workers.”

“Each patient will be placed with a care coordinator who will help manage their treatment journey. This will allow patients to concentrate on their treatment and maintaining good health. The care coordinator will also ensure necessary support is in place for patient families.”

BCRC-WA does not receive any government funding and relies on donations to provide support services to patients. 

“Anyone interested in working with us, particularly in terms of our new breast cancer centre, will benefit from gaining warranted recognition throughout the development and beyond,” BCRC-WA CEO, Carmelo Arto said.

“We invite you to share in our vision for a comprehensive breast cancer centre with world-class, state of the art, personalised care. Your contribution will directly help us to increase survival rates and save lives.”

A donation of $140,000 can fund a breast care nurse for 12 months, $170,000 can fund psychological services for 12 months and $190,000 an oncology fellow for the same period of time.

Interested parties are encouraged to call Mr Arto at BCRC-WA on 6500 5501 or email info@bcrc-wa.com.au


Professor Arlene Chan

A breast cancer specific oncologist, Professor Chan is founding member and director of Breast Cancer Research Centre-WA. Founded in 2000, not for profit BCRC-WA is recognised in Australia and overseas for its contribution to the survival of breast cancer patients.

Professor Chan has earned an international reputation for her ground-breaking research which has resulted in better treatment for cancer patients, improved cure rates and prolonged life for cancer sufferers. She has recruited over 1000 patients into around 90 clinical trials and has also established the first breast cancer tumour bank in Western Australia with more than 2000 samples available for cancer research.

Professor Chan won the 2016 West Australian of the Year award in the Professions category for her outstanding efforts in the field of breast cancer research. In July 2018, she was awarded the Member for the Order of Australia for significant services to medicine in the field of oncology, particularly breast cancer support, diagnosis and treatment.

A world leader in research in metastatic or advanced breast cancer, Professor Chan runs the busiest breast cancer clinical trials unit in Australia at Breast Cancer Research Centre-WA where at least 13 successful trials have improved the way the disease is treated internationally.


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