Metastatic Breast Cancer: a major and growing burden

Metastatic Breast Cancer: a major and growing burden 

  • Breast cancer is the most diagnosed cancer amongst women (2.1 million cases each year) accounting for almost 1 in 4 cancer cases. 
  • Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer death for women in over 100 countries.
  • The burden is higher in low and middle-income countries (LMIC) where 50-60% of breast cancer cases are diagnosed at an advanced stage (with a 80% rate for some countries). Yet, this rate is in average between 10-15% in high-income countries (HIC).

Metastatic Breast Cancer (MBC) is the most advanced stage of breast cancer and occurs when the disease spreads to other parts of the body such as lungs, brain, liver and bones. 

While global funding for early stage disease has received essential and substantial attention, much fewer resources have been dedicated to advanced breast cancer patients. It is an incurable disease, requiring a robust and individualised response from a given health system, as well as long-term social and psychological resources as patients face complicated decisions, and often face discrimination and a sense of isolation. 

There is currently no cure for MBC, however the disease can be treated. The aim of the treatment is to prolong survival while preserving quality of life.  In average there is a 3 year survival rate after the diagnosis (5 years in Europe). 

To tackle this growing cancer burden and support cancer organisations, UICC launched the Seeding Progress and Resources for the Cancer Community (SPARC) Metastatic Breast Cancer (MBC) Challenge in 2015. A grants programme, delivered in partnership with Pfizer


Last update: 
Tuesday 2 July 2019