Critical gaps in breast cancer research could see the loss of around 185,000* lives by 2030 if they are not urgently addressed, according to a major new study co-authored by researchers from King's College London.
Globally, breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in women, with an estimated 1.38 million new cases per year. 50,000 cases in women and 400 in men are recorded each year in the UK alone.
Published today by Breast Cancer Campaign, the research brought together more than 100 internationally recognised scientists, clinicians and healthcare professionals, along with patient advocates, to explore which gaps in research, if filled, would bring the greatest patient benefits.
The gaps range from identifying lifestyle changes which could enable women to protect themselves from the disease to a better understanding of how tumours grow and spread to other parts of the body.
Some of the gaps concern the need for new treatments – particularly for secondary or metastatic cancer, where the tumour spreads to other parts of the body. There is a need for biopsies, ortissue samples, to be taken from these secondary cancers, because they are often not the same as the primary cancer, according to the researchers.
Further research is needed to understand what it is that enables breast tumours to become resistant to drugs and to spread throughout the body.
A better understanding of prevention is also required to identify which sustainable changes in lifestyle, such as diet and exercise, can reduce a woman's chance of developing cancer in the first place.