European survey exposes poor patient awareness of new breast cancer treatments

Shocking knowledge gap revealed across Europe

11th European Cancer Conference, Lisbon, Portugal Patient awareness of potentially life-saving new breast cancer tests and treatments is woefully low among the majority of women with breast cancer across Europe, according to the results of a new survey of breast cancer patients revealed today.1

Although doctors and nurses were rated as among the prime sources of breast cancer information, some patients expressed concern that information on new treatments was not always readily offered.

Overall patients demonstrated a lack of knowledge about innovative new treatments such as Herceptin (trastuzumab). While patient familiarity with older treatments such as chemotherapy was high in all countries, Germany was the only country to report high awareness levels for Herceptin at 60%, compared to only 6% in the UK.1 Similarly, awareness of HER2 diagnostic testing (which identifies those patients suitable for Herceptin) was only 17% overall.

Susan Knox, Executive Director of Europa Donna, The European Breast Cancer Coalition, commented, Unlike other illnesses, breast cancer is a disease in which a woman needs to understand the treatments available and the probable outcomes related to them. Knowledge and information are crucial elements in decision-making and in enabling a woman to take back some of the control she has lost over her body.

Given patient awareness of treatment options, it is unsurprising that women were found to make little or no contribution to the treatment decision-making process.

Susan Knox continues, "Women have the right to play an active role in making their treatment decisions. Since breast cancer treatments are diverse and constantly changing, the more a woman knows, the more confident and calm she will be during treatment, having arrived at a decision in collaboration with her healthcare team. It is concerning to think that not all

Contact: Sally Cresswell

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