Medical Oncologist Calls for More Research and Improved Access to Reduce Incidence of de Novo Metastatic Breast Cancer

October 11, 2021

Despite the widespread use of mammography screening, the incidence of de novo metastatic breast cancer has not declined and represents 3% to 6% of new breast cancer diagnoses in high-income countries and 10% to 30% in low-income countries. De novo metastatic breast cancer refers to breast cancer that has already spread to distant sites (liver, brain, lung or bone) at a patient’s initial diagnosis and has a five-year survival rate of around 29%.

In a paper published in the journal Clinical Breast Cancer, Alexandra Thomas, M.D., professor of hematology and oncology at Wake Forest School of Medicine, attributed this lack of improvement to two explanations—aggressive tumor biology and lack of health equity.

“Women with de novo metastatic breast cancer are disproportionately impacted by social determinants of health,” said Thomas. “Difficulties and delays in accessing health care have been associated with being nonwhite, having a rural residence and lower socioeconomic status.”

In the Clinical Breast Cancer findings, Thomas also called for broader efforts to improve access to breast cancer screening and expanded education efforts to reduce the disparity gap.

“We need improved access to care for underserved populations,” Thomas said.

De novo metastatic breast cancer might also have its own unique biologic characteristics, which differ from recurrent metastatic breast cancer, and more research is needed.

“Evaluating the genes of tumors that present as de novo metastatic breast cancer might offer clues as to why this happens and how we can lower the risk of this occurring,” Thomas said. 

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