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New clinical guidance to improve early breast cancer outcomes

Breast cancer will be the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia in 2020. Cancer Australia today launched a new, comprehensive digital resource, Guidance for the management of early breast cancer, providing health professionals with around 200 up-to-date, evidence-based recommendations and practice points to lead to optimal outcomes for women and men with breast cancer in Australia.

An estimated 19,807 women and 167 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year. While most breast cancers are diagnosed at an early stage and approximately 90% of people diagnosed with breast cancer survive five years or more after diagnosis. Breast cancer is second only to lung cancer as the leading cause of death from cancer among women in Australia and is the fifth most common cause of cancer death among women and men in Australia.

“For health professionals, knowing where to find current, best-practice advice quickly and easily on breast cancer care is critical for delivering optimal care. The website provides health professionals with a range of guidance on the management of early breast cancer in an easy-to-use interactive digital format that is accessible and intuitive,” said Professor Dorothy Keefe, CEO, Cancer Australia.

“The Guidance is also a valuable tool for shared decision-making between health professionals and patients. It supports a holistic, patient-centred, multidisciplinary approach that will help to reduce unwarranted variations in early breast cancer care. The recommendations and practice points are underpinned by the key Principles in the Optimal Care Pathways, which put patients at the centre of care.”

The Guidance website covers treatment planning, information and support; treatment options; and follow-up and survivorship care for people with early breast cancer, from the point of diagnosis onwards.

Interactive features include curated topics on younger or premenopausal women, pregnant women, sexual and reproductive health, older patients, cardiac health, lymphoedema, and wellbeing and psychosocial care.

The Guidance also complements Cancer Australia’s Statement on key practices to influence best practice care.

The Guidance was developed with the oversight and input of representatives of relevant professional colleges and peak bodies, consumer organisations, experts with clinical, academic and community knowledge, and people with experience of breast cancer.

To further support health professionals treating people with early breast cancer, Cancer Australia has also released two new clinical education courses hosted on the Professional Development Program learning platform from the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine. Both courses, Breast cancer – Treatment Options and Follow-up and Survivorship Care for Early Breast Cancer will be accredited with educational activity hours.

The evidence- based Cancer Australia Guide for General Practitioners, Investigation of a new breast symptom, is also available to support GPs in using the triple test approach, which when performed appropriately, can detect over 99.6% of breast cancers.