Understanding the impact of breast cancer beyond treatment

Monash University and the Jean Hailes Foundation are assessing the key physical and emotional issues faced by women following breast cancer diagnosis and treatment as part of a five-year study.

With 3000 Victorian women diagnosed annually, it is expected that 15,000 women will participate in the 'Health and Wellbeing After Breast Cancer Study, led by Chief Investigators Professor Susan Davis and Epidemiologist Dr Robin Bell of the NHMRC Centre of Clinical Research Excellence at The Jean Hailes Foundation and Monash University.

The study comes as Australia marked Pink Ribbon Day on Monday, October 25.

Professor Davis said that we do not know how many women suffer severe loss of quality of life after breast cancer treatment, or how they try to deal with this. To date the focus has been on treatment and survival.

"At the heart of this study is women's individual experiences, both medical and emotional. For instance we know that women who undergo chemotherapy experience more severe symptoms of menopause as a result of their treatment. Therefore we need to establish what the issues are to move forward and ensure that all women can look forward to a good quality of life after breast cancer."

The study will comprehensively consider lifestyle and medical factors, along with the type of breast cancer and treatment including:
  • Follow up the short and long term physical and psychological impact of breast cancer
  • Consider the effectiveness and safety of various therapies
  • Document breast cancer recurrence rates and provide new data on how therapies impact on recurrence or survival
  • Find out how new treatments affect long-term health risks

Dr Bell said the study was unique because it provided the opportunity for the entire population of Victorian women, newly diagnosed with breast cancer, including women in rural regions, who are rarely represented in large trials to be involved.

"This will ensure a complete representation of all women no matter where they live, or their individual life circumstances. Participation in the After Breast Cancer Study will provide them the opportunity to influence how women in the future are managed, " concluded Dr Bell.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News-Medical.Net.
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