Pfizer marks World Cancer Day with grant to UICC to address the needs of metastatic breast cancer patients

3 February 2015

Citing the need for more support for metastatic breast cancer patients, Pfizer pledges $500,000 (USD) in funding for international grants programme

NEW YORK, N.Y., February 4, 2015 - Pfizer, Inc. today announced a grant to the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) for a first-of-its-kind initiative to address the unique challenges facing metastatic breast cancer (MBC) patients. While great progress has been made in the management of breast cancer, it remains a significant and growing global health issue and patients are commonly diagnosed in the advanced stages of the disease.[1],[2] The Seeding Progress and Resources for the Cancer Community (SPARC): Metastatic Breast Cancer Challenge will provide grants to support initiatives worldwide that encourage sustainable change in addressing the specific needs of people living with metastatic breast cancer.

Aligned with the World Cancer Day ‘Not Beyond Us’ message, these grants aim to encourage implementation of solutions for treatment, care and support of metastatic breast cancer patients who often cope with their illness with a sense of isolation and stigma.[3],[4]

Through a grant from Pfizer of $500,000 (USD), UICC will support approximately 20 international initiatives. The SPARC MBC Challenge seeks proposals for new national and regional initiatives that aim to:

  • Close the gap on patient information and navigation of care options;
  • Raise awareness of the specific needs and challenges that face women with metastatic breast cancer;
  • Ensure metastatic breast cancer is embedded in national breast cancer policies; or
  • Reduce the incidence of metastatic breast cancer at diagnosis.

Grantees will be selected through a competitive application process overseen by an external, independent steering committee consisting of leading experts in the fields of cancer care and advocacy on behalf of metastatic breast cancer patients. The steering committee will be chaired by globally renowned oncologist and leading breast cancer advocate, Dr. Fatima Cardoso.  

In addition to the grants, the SPARC MBC Challenge will also follow the progress and results for the funded initiatives, provide mentorship support to the grantees, and enable networking and sharing of best practices among the participating global organizations.

“Around the world, breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women.[5]  For those with metastatic disease, there is a great need for improved, sustainable support for these patients,” said Dr. Mace Rothenberg, senior vice president of Clinical Development and Medical Affairs and chief medical officer for Pfizer Oncology. “We are excited to support UICC‘s efforts to fund new projects in countries around the world that will support these women who continue to face significant challenges.”

An estimated 1.7 million new cases of breast cancer are diagnosed globally each year, and six percent of breast cancer patients present with primary metastatic disease at diagnosis.[6],[7] In addition, women diagnosed with earlier stages of breast cancer have a nearly 30 percent chance that their cancer will eventually progress to metastatic disease.[8] Diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer has a multitude of significant consequences impacting the patient, caregivers, the healthcare system and society. This initiative aims to bring the oncology community together to build on collective experiences and work toward providing all metastatic breast cancer patients with access to the types of resources they need for their care.

“UICC is pleased that Pfizer is supporting this innovative programmme that allows us to continue our mission of reducing the cancer burden in areas such as metastatic breast cancer, where fewer patient and community resources are available compared to early-stage disease,” said Cary Adams, chief executive officer of UICC and chair of the NCD Alliance. “Through this programme, we hope to promote greater equity in access to key interventions that support people with metastatic breast cancer.”

About the Seeding Progress and Resources for the Cancer Community (SPARC): Metastatic Breast Cancer Challenge

The SPARC MBC Challenge aims to address critical issues for people at risk of, or living with metastatic breast cancer. An independent, external steering committee will award grants to global organizations in support of programmes that address the following challenges in metastatic breast cancer:

  • Information and support gap
  • Voice/awareness gap
  • Policy and health systems gap
  • Reducing the incidence

Organizations with a focus on treating or assisting cancer patients at risk of or living with metastatic breast cancer are invited to submit proposals. Grant recipients will be announced in November 2015 at the Advanced Breast Cancer Third International Consensus Conference (ABC3) in Lisbon, Portugal. For more information on the SPARC MBC Challenge, the submission criteria, or to submit a proposal, please visit:

About Pfizer Oncology

Pfizer Oncology is committed to the discovery, investigation and development of innovative treatment options to improve the outlook for patients worldwide. Our strong pipeline of biologics and small molecules, one of the most robust in the industry, is studied with precise focus on identifying and translating the best scientific breakthroughs into clinical application for patients across a wide range of cancers. By researchers, cooperative research groups, governments, and licensing partners, Pfizer Oncology strives to cure or control cancer with breakthrough medicines, to deliver the right drug for each patient at the right time. For more information, please visit

About the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC)

UICC unites the cancer community to reduce the global cancer burden, to promote greater equity, and to integrate cancer control into the world health and development agenda. UICC is the largest cancer-fighting organization of its kind, with over 800 member organizations across 155 countries representing the world's major cancer societies, ministries of health, research institutes, treatment centers and patient groups.

UICC is dedicated to continuing to work with world leaders to increase their support for cancer control measures, and hold them to account for the cancer commitments made in the UN Political Declaration on NCDs. UICC uses key convening opportunities like the World Cancer Congress and World Cancer Day to lobby to:

  • Develop targets and indicators to measure the implementation of policies and approaches to prevent and control cancer
  • Raise the priority accorded to cancer in the global development agenda
  • Promote a global response to cancer

UICC and its multisectoral partners are committed to encouraging governments to adopt specific time-bound targets that address the global burden of cancer and other NCDs. UICC is also a founding member of the NCD Alliance, a global civil society network that now represents almost 2,000 organizations in 170 countries.

For more information visit:



[1] CancerMPact®. Kantar Health. Available at: Accessed on October 14, 2014.

[2] Rambau, P. Pathological features of Breast Cancer seen in Northwestern Tanzania: a nine years retrospective study. BMC Res Notes. 2011; 4: 214.

[3] Mayer M, Grober S. Silent Voices: Women with Advanced (Metastatic) Breast Cancer Share Their Needs and Preferences for Information, Support, and Practical Resources. Available at: Accessed on January 15, 2015.

[4] Breast Cancer Survey, sponsored by Pfizer Oncology. April 2014.

[5] American Cancer Society. Detailed Guide: Breast Cancer. Available at: Accessed on January 12, 2015.

[6] GLOBOCAN. 2012 Breast Cancer Incidence and Mortality Worldwide. Available at: Accessed on January 12, 2015.

[7] Barinoff J. Clinicopathological differences between breast cancer in patients with primary metastatic disease and those without: a multicentre study. Eur J Cancer. Jan 2013;49(2):305-11

[8] O’Shaughnessy J. Extending Survival with Chemotherapy in Metastatic Breast Cancer. The Oncologist. 2005; 10 Suppl 3:20-29

Last update: 
Friday 7 June 2019