Giving Compass’ Take:
• Daniela Rodriguez-Rincon and Catriona Manville advocate for research into treatments’ psychological and social wellbeing impacts on breast cancer survivors.
• Why can focusing solely on clinical outcomes negatively impact survivors? How can funders help focus the conversation on other dimensions of disease and treatment effects?
• Read about how to best support breast cancer patients.
Breast cancer is the most commonly occurring cancer in women, accounting for 25 per cent of all cancer diagnoses worldwide. Strong advocacy and research have benefitted the fight against the disease. However, a recent program of research by RAND Europe found that further advances in breast cancer treatment could be limited because of current successes.
The concern is that existing effective treatments for early breast cancer may lead policymakers and those responsible for funding new treatments to underestimate the need for investment in further improvements and innovation in treatment and delivery of care. There may be a tendency to over-emphasis the cost-effectiveness of new potential treatments based purely on clinical outcomes (e.g. survival rates) when the quality of life of the patient should be a consideration as well.
Anecdotally we know that experiencing disease progression or a recurrence after early treatment has negative effects on the psychological and social wellbeing of women with breast cancer, and may also impact their carers and wider society. Wider impacts include not being able to return to work, and a resulting loss of productivity.
The non-clinical implications of experiencing breast cancer recurrence, such as depression and anxiety, are not always taken into account in a Health Technology Assessment (HTA,) which may have hidden costs to patients, their carers and society more broadly. To be incorporated into the assessment of new technologies, clinical trials could include the collection of psychosocial and other outcomes in a standardized manner that ensures the evidence is robust.
Read the full article about the wider impacts of breast cancer by Daniela Rodriguez-Rincon and Catriona Manville at Rand.
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