FINANCING OPTIONS FOR METASTATIC BREAST CANCER TREATMENTS
SEPT 25, 2019 @ 3.01PM
Metastatic breast cancer (mBC), the most advanced stage of breast cancer in which cancer has spread beyond the breast to other organs in the body – remains an incurable condition and is the second leading cause of cancer death among women today. Furthermore, the emotional toll of mBC can be profound and can transcend into the ways people feel about themselves, communicate with others and live their lives.
Even when diagnosed at an early stage, up to 30% of women with early breast cancer will eventually progress to metastatic disease. While the awareness of breast cancer is high, thanks to cultural collective of breast cancer advocacy and awareness activities, the knowledge of mBC still remains low. About three in five surveyed say they know little to nothing about metastatic breast cancer.
Shedding light on metastatic breast cancer
Pfizer Malaysia, in partnership with Breast Cancer Welfare Association Malaysia (BCWA), aims to elevate public understanding of metastatic breast cancer, dispel misperceptions, combat stigma and expand the breast cancer conversation to be more inclusive of metastatic breast cancer. A survey was conducted by the BCWA in September to find out the mBC literacy level among Malaysians including knowledge, behaviours and treatment-seeking approaches.
“We undertook this survey to understand and address gaps in the metastatic breast cancer dialogue across a spectrum of respondents. The survey yielded results that not only help us realise where the misunderstandings are but also help point us to what needs to be done next,” said Ranjit Kaur, president, Breast Cancer Welfare Association Malaysia.
Based on the survey, 70% of respondents cited poor awareness of treatment options as one of the major barriers that prevents mBC patients from seeking effective medical treatment, second to affordability.
“Improved access to information on mBC and professional guidance on the risks, benefits and uncertainties of different treatment options can empower mBC patients in making personalised and informed decisions that will allow them to live life to the fullest,” added Ranjit.
Take steps toward embracing life with metastatic breast cancer
Three out of five surveyed believed that mBC is caused by late detection of breast cancer. This misconception may lead to the stigmatization of people with mBC. It’s important to understand that breast cancer is a multi-dimensional disease with distinct characteristics, patient needs and outcomes.
“The burden of the disease should not be shouldered by the patient alone. Speaking from my personal experience, I know how overwhelming a breast cancer diagnosis can be. It is especially frightening if you don’t know what to expect and who to turn to,” said Ranjit.
About 62% of survey respondents also believed that mBC was untreatable. The truth is many patients can live long, fulfilling and productive lives while being treated for metastatic disease. There are many approaches to treating mBC and new treatments are being tested every day.
“Each patients’ treatment plan will be different because each breast cancer is unique. More importantly, patient can have confidence that there are a wide variety of metastatic treatment options available. While mBC can’t be cured, the goal of mBC treatment is to slow or stop cancer growth while maintaining patients’ quality of life,” said Professor Dato' Dr Yip Cheng-Har.
Know your financing options for mBC treatments
Yip also emphasised the importance of access to treatment options and professional guidance to the risks and benefits. When it comes to treatment seeking approaches, the survey revealed that 80% of respondents believed that affordability is the main barrier preventing patients from seeking effective medical treatment. The financial burden of mBC is real and hard to ignore.
“I understand that affordability remains one of the main barriers faced by patients when it comes to mBC treatments. There are several financing options in Malaysia that support mBC patients, for example, government hospitals, SOCSO & EPF, insurance and patient assistance programmes such as Embrace. Speak to your doctor to learn more,” she added.
Embrace is a patient assistance programme by Pfizer to support HR+/HER2- mBC patients’ treatment continuity for improved outcome and better quality of life. Through this programme, mBC patients can better plan their finances and gain access to innovative medical treatments.
“Beyond developing effective treatments, Pfizer works hand-in-hand with the broader cancer community to support people with breast cancer including metastatic disease. We have partnered with like-minded patient advocacy groups such as BCWA on projects, resources and initiatives over the years to help improve the lives of people living with breast cancer and make their journeys less isolating,” said Dr Jerusha Naidoo, country medical lead, Pfizer Malaysia.
A united effort: Leading change for all those touched by metastatic breast cancer
There is an unyielding consensus among healthcare professionals, patients, the advocacy community and Pfizer that women living with metastatic breast cancer should be part of the larger breast cancer dialogue and receive the support and information they need.
Change will not happen overnight, but with the commitment of multiple parties, we will amplify the voice of mBC patients under a united, common approach:
“I implore my peers and colleagues to encourage their patients to talk to their doctors about their conditions and treatment options. One of the most effective ways to feel in control of your diagnosis is to get involved with choosing your treatment that best reflects your personal needs, wishes and values,” concluded Yip.
The culture of colourism: The obsession with lighter skin tones driving opportunities in the skin lighteners market
Arson, animal cruelty and lack of remorse - traits of personality disorders to look out for in a person
University Malaya Medical Centre inks deal to make Uniportal VATS more affordable for lung cancer patients
Digital Health Malaysia takes health transformation to new heights with fourth telemedicine conference
Astrazeneca signs MoA with InvestKL to improve access to healthcare, explore digital transformation in the management of diseases
Roche launch Perjeta - Herceptin combination, a post surgery treatment for early breast cancer (eBC)
Keytruda with chemotherapy to be the first line of treatment for patients with advanced lung cancer
33% below 15 exposed to sexual intercourse, at higher risk of developing cervical cancer says oncologist
Breast cancer survivor emphasizes on monthly self-examination, says no alternative therapy, magic pill for cure