I see my patients go through a range of emotions when they first learn that they have breast cancer.
Many hear the words ‘breast cancer’ and that’s all they can take in one consultation, as I see fear and anxiety wash over them.
But one of the most satisfying things about my job is to be able to say to patients that today we have choices in their treatments.
We can tailor those treatments to their specific type of breast cancer.
And their chances of having a long and happy life are better today than ever before.
Clinical trials have been instrumental to these major improvements since the early 1990’s.
I remember how excited I was as a young registrar to see the publication of the early breast cancer clinical trial results and the Oxford Overviews.
It was very clear to everyone that this is where the real action was happening in improving outcomes for women with breast cancer or for those who are at high risk.
Since then, the discoveries that have been made through clinical trials research have been amazing.
Through our international collaborations, Australian researchers have been at the forefront of breast cancer clinical trials research, and new and improved treatments have been available to Australian women sooner.
We’ve seen the impact that Herceptin has had for example to treat women with HER2 positive breast cancer, which quite literally transformed the treatment of this once poor prognosis cancer.
It’s been during my career that we’ve seen breast cancer turn into many diseases and not just one disease, treatment decisions made based on the biology of the disease, and more women surviving their breast cancer who’ve previously would have had a poor prognosis.
I’m looking forward to seeing what advances the next era of clinical trials research will bring and how this will translate into improvements for my patients.