Research

World Class Research

Our aim is to find better treatments for patients sooner through our clinical trials which are furthering the global knowledge of breast cancer and its treatment.

As our name suggests, Breast Cancer Research Centre-WA conducts research into breast cancer treatment and care. Our research informs and underpins the treatment we provide to our patients.

BCRC-WA was founded in 2000 with a vision to provide high quality care to breast cancer patients while conducting trials into the next generation of cancer drugs. This would ensure patients had access to the most advanced treatments.

While early stage breast cancer is the chief focus of most researchers internationally, BCRC-WA directs more than half its research – 57% – into metastatic, or advanced cancer, where the breast cancer has metastasised in another part of the body, such as the brain or bones. Finding a cure for metastatic breast cancer drives our research at BCRC-WA.

Women diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer have the odds stacked against them however, access to trial treatments is helping women defy their predicted life expectancy.

For many years, the average life expectancy for a patient with a metastatic diagnosis was around 2 to 3 years. Now we’re seeing 15% of our patients living beyond 5 years, and 5% are still going strong after 10 years.

By allowing patients to participate in clinical trials, they can gain access to treatments that are not only at no cost (to them), but also sometimes 10 years earlier than if they had to wait for the treatments to come onto the market.

Breast Cancer Trials Unit (BCTU)

The research we do is conducted through our Breast Clinical Trials Unit (BCTU).  We conduct large international trials and in-house patient focused research.

Clinical trials are the only way to discover which new approaches to cancer treatments will work better than existing ones. All the services we provide at BCTU are free of charge. With the help of our generous donors, we’re able to offer patients the most up-to-date breast cancer care.

BCTU, led by Professor Arlene Chan, is one of the busiest trials units in Australia per number of staff and number of patients seen and runs more than 30 clinical trials concurrently. Nearly 1100 patients have been involved in over 80 trials since BCRC-WA was established. 10 successful trials have improved the way breast cancer is treated internationally.

A facility with a treatment base and trials unit of this size is unique in Australia; no other centre offers the same degree of care for breast cancer patients.

The importance of our clinical trials cannot be underestimated. For example, one trial found that a particular medication led to a 50% increase in the survival rate and this medication then went on to be a current standard of care for breast cancer patients throughout the world.

How do we select our trials?

The scientific merit, operational feasibility, methodology and originality of each project is assessed and due consideration is always given to how a trial will benefit not only our own patients but how it will add to the understanding and treatment of breast cancer worldwide.

BCRC-WA participates in multi-centre trials for pharmaceutical companies or collaborative research groups.

We conduct and initiate our own research (called also Investigator-led trials) which are often performed to answer a clinical question or clinical needs which are important to patients.

BCRC-WA is proud to fund and oversee the Helen Sewell Breast Tumour Bank where donated tissue is stored and used for medical research.

BCRC-WA is a recognised member of the Breast Centres Network (affiliated with the European School of Oncology), and member of the Australian Clinical Trial Alliance Community