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CancerCare® Publishes White Paper Examining Treatment Decision Making for Patients with Metastatic Breast Cancer

CancerCare, the leading national nonprofit organization providing free, professional support services to anyone affected by cancer, has released a white paper based on findings from a roundtable with metastatic breast cancer (MBC) patients.

On November 12, 2019, a group of social workers from CancerCare and the Young Survival Coalition met with 5 patients who had been diagnosed with MBC and 3 of their caregivers. The objectives of this roundtable were to characterize patients’ experiences, understand the steps and knowledge needed for informed decisions and to identify gaps and opportunities to better support patients in making decisions about treatment for MBC. Discussions from this roundtable led to the development of a white paper.

Discussion of the patient experience at diagnosis revealed that patients had limited knowledge about MBC prior to their diagnosis. In some cases, patients who were treated for early-stage breast cancer were unaware that their cancers could progress to MBC. Patients were informed of their diagnoses through a number of ways, including at doctor appointments with family members present and over the phone while at work. Caregivers and family members were often present at the diagnosis for support or to gather information.

Like many cancer patients, the roundtable participants desired more information about MBC and treatment options. In many patients, diagnosis and lack of information can lead to feelings of distress and grief, as well as loss of control, which may prevent some patients from absorbing information at appointments.

“The purpose of this study was to learn what patients with MBC are missing when it comes to making informed decisions about their treatment,” said Christine Verini, CancerCare’s Chief Operating Officer. “The goal of our organization is to put the needs of the patient first, and we will continue evaluating these needs in order to improve their experience.”

The findings from this roundtable resulted in developed recommendations by CancerCare to target the needs of patients with MBC. Implementation of these recommendations through collaborative partnerships among patients, caregivers, HCPs, advocacy organizations, academic institutions and pharmaceutical companies could greatly improve the experiences of patients with MBC as they navigate their treatment journeys.

CancerCare researched and developed this white paper with the support of a grant from Seattle Genetics.

The complete white paper can be viewed online here.

About CancerCare®

Founded in 1944, CancerCare is the leading national organization providing free, professional support services and information to help people manage the emotional, practical and financial challenges of cancer. Our comprehensive services include counseling and support groups over the phone, online and in-person, educational workshops, publications and financial and co-payment assistance. All CancerCare services are provided by master’s-prepared oncology social workers and world-leading cancer experts.

To learn more, visit or call 800-813-HOPE (4673).

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