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[Abstract] The Unique Support Path for Metastatic Breast Cancer Patients

June 30, 2018


Elana Plotkin1, Marianne Gandee2, Lorna Lucas1, Tara Perloff1
1 Association of Community Cancer Centers, Provider Education, Rockville, MD, USA
2 Association of Community Cancer Centers, Development, Rockville, MD, USA


An estimated 150,000 to 250,000 women in the U.S. are currently living with metastatic breast cancer. While breast cancer is a high-profile disease, receiving significant research funding and prevention initiatives, patients with metastatic breast cancer face unique challenges. Public messaging about a “cure” is so pervasive that people diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer can be stigmatized by the perception that they’ve failed to take care of themselves.


Expand the current breast cancer conversation to address gaps between early and metastatic disease and improve the treatment and management of metastatic breast cancer in the community setting.

Address the communication challenges that cancer care teams face such as: Patient perception that their cancer is curable, patient level of engagement during conversations with providers, providers who may “minimize” the severity of the disease, and lack of awareness of available resources.


An environmental scan was completed. An expert advisory panel was formed. 5 different community cancer centers completed in-depth focus groups on their care path.


A process improvement workbook was created with a map of care from metastatic diagnosis through end of life. Relevant resources were attributed to five stages: Diagnosis, Current Treatment, Monitoring Treatment, Treatment Failure, Hospice. Six principles were identified and assigned: Empower the patient, reframe the conversation, reduce patient isolation, offer logistical support, connect patients with support in the community, and collaborate in the interest of patients.


This patient population should be given specialized care to address their unique diagnosis and improve communications with their care team.

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