A new report released today from the Canadian Breast Cancer Network (CBCN), Breast Cancer: The Lived Experience, provides the comprehensive perspective of almost 500 Canadian women who have experienced a breast cancer diagnosis. Patients and survivors diagnosed with both early stage and metastatic (stage IV) breast cancer, share their experiences with the process of being diagnosed, making treatment decisions, accessing clinical trials, the psychosocial and financial impact, accessing palliative care and managing survivorship challenges. Through their experiences, patients identify current gaps when it comes to meeting the needs of breast cancer patients. This is the first Canadian report to share the experiences of early stage patients in parallel with metastatic breast cancer patients; creating a greater understating of the similarities and differences between both groups.


“I think we can all agree that the objective for both patients and government are the same – to improve the lives of those burdened with disease and find efficient solutions to achieve this,” says Cathy Ammendolea, Chair of the Board of Directors, CBCN. “To best accomplish this, however, it’s critical to understand the patient-perspective in order to address these needs with a patient-centred approach.”

Based on the experiences of these women, CBCN has identified five overarching factors that can greatly improve the health outcomes and the quality of life of Canadians diagnosed with breast cancer:

  1. Improved Educational Resources: The quality and availability of patient focused education has increased over the past couple of decades: however, there are still some patient-friendly educational resources that are lacking. These include specific resources for newly diagnosed metastatic breast cancer patients, decision aids that support breast cancer surgery and post-surgery decision making and the navigation of financial resources.
  2. Increased Access to Treatments: This challenge was specifically identified and vocalized by people living with metastatic breast cancer. Efforts need to continue to shorten the drug approval process time, increase equitable access to new medications and ensure equitable access for take-home oral cancer medications.
  3. Increased Access to Information: Information available to patients about their health and treatment has increased; however, there is still information that isn’t always communicated to patients that would help them make informed decisions about their health. This includes information about breast density, palliative care options and information about clinical trials.
  4. Integrated Systemic Supports: The health care system as a whole is responsible for many of the services and supports that patients need to achieve optimal health and manage their breast cancer; however, these supports can be challenging to navigate and are sometimes lacking. Supports that need to be addressed at a systemic level include patient navigation, communication tools to support general practitioners during the diagnosis process and increased Employment Insurance Sickness Benefits.
  5. Increased Awareness and Understanding of Metastatic Breast Cancer: Accurate statistics and increased awareness would help further the understanding of the impact of this stage of breast cancer and better support those with it.

The recommendations laid out in this report provide key starting points and practical solutions to address the burden of breast cancer and improve the lives of those impacted by this disease. Visit CBCN.ca for more information and read the report to learn more about these recommendations.

The Canadian Breast Cancer Network (CBCN) is Canada’s only patient-directed national breast cancer health charity. The Canadian Breast Cancer Network is committed to ensuring the best quality of care for all Canadians affected by breast cancer and strives to voice the views and concerns of breast cancer survivors and patients through the promotion of information sharing, education and advocacy activities.

SOURCE Canadian Breast Cancer Network

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