We need to talk about metastatic breast cancer – BCNA’s new media guide

metastatic breast cancer

Breast Cancer Network Australia

Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA) – Australia’s leading voice for people affected by breast cancer – has released a media guide on how to talk about metastatic breast cancer.

BCNA’s Director of Policy, Advocacy and Support Services Vicki Durston said she hoped the guide would help journalists, among others, when covering stories about metastatic breast cancer, and breast cancer more generally.

“Increasingly, metastatic breast cancer is making the news,” Ms Durston said. 

“This is important as increased awareness and understanding of the different stages of breast cancer will help drive better treatment and care.

“However, we hear from our members that inadvertently or unconsciously, journalists can use language that offends, misrepresents, or completely ignores the realities of living with metastatic breast cancer. 

“Finding the right language when reporting on metastatic breast cancer can be challenging, but it is so important.”

The guide includes terms to avoid, language preferences, and facts and figures about metastatic breast cancer.

Metastatic breast cancer is when breast cancer has spread beyond the breast to other parts of the body, most often the bones, lungs, liver or brain. It is treatable but not currently curable and is a life-limiting disease.

Metastatic is different to other stages of breast cancer, such as early breast cancer (stages I-III) or ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). It is the only breast cancer that people die from.

We don’t know how many people in Australia are living with metastatic breast cancer, however the latest modelling suggests it to be at least 15,000 people. 

The Reporting Metastatic Breast Cancer Media Guide was developed in consultation with members of BCNA’s Metastatic Breast Cancer Lived Experience Reference Group. 

Mieka, a member of BCNA’s Metastatic Breast Cancer Lived Experience Reference Group, said “it is critical we raise awareness of metastatic breast cancer, hear directly from people with metastatic breast cancer, and work urgently to improve the lives of people living with metastatic breast cancer and prevent deaths from breast cancer”.

Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA) is Australia’s leading breast cancer consumer organisation. BCNA provides information and support to those diagnosed and their supporters, opportunities to connect with others going through a similar situation and work to influence a stronger healthcare system to ensure all Australians affected by breast cancer receive the very best care, treatment and support.

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