While early stage breast cancer is the chief focus of most researchers internationally, BCRC-WA directs more than half of its research – 67 percent – into metastatic cancer, that is where the breast cancer has metastasised in another part of the body, such as the brain or bones.
As well as being passionate about research, Professor Arlene Chan is passionate about her patients and ensuring their best chance of survival.
“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 trial treatments and providing best evidence-based care are helping women to 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 percent are still going strong a decade later.
“Even five years ago, this was unheard of. And it is 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.”
Professor Chan said BCRC-WA has more than 30 trials currently underway.
“Nearly 1200 patients have been involved in over 100 trials since BCRC-WA was established. In that time we have seen a 50% increase in the survival rate for more than 160 patients,” she said.
In an Australian first, BCRC-WA also unveiled a plan to develop a world-class integrated research, treatment and support centre for breast cancer mid-2020.