Breast Cancer Research Centre - WA

WA Women Benefit from Cutting Edge Breast Cancer Research

Publication: 

The Breast Cancer Research Centre WA has the busiest breast cancer clinical trials unit in Australia, having conducted over 80 international, national and local breast cancer trials involving over 1000 WA patients since 2000.

Western Australian of the Year 2016 professions winner Professor Arlene Chan founded the not for profit Breast Cancer Research Centre WA in 2000.

Professor Chan said the Centre, which is based at Hollywood Private Hospital, has the only trials unit of its kind in Australia to be led by breast cancer specialists dedicated to ongoing breast cancer research and education.   “There are many benefits to a clinician lead research organisation but most optimal is recognising the priority areas of research for patients with breast cancer and being able to offer cutting-edge drug trials to patients.  “While statistically, our trials have shown a 50% increase in the survival rate for more than 160 patients since 2000, anecdotally, I am yet to see a patient who didn’t benefit in some way from her involvement in a clinical trial,” said Professor Chan.   Professor Chan has put Perth on the global map in terms of breast cancer treatment trials – by being the leading patient recruiter not just in Australia but in the world.

According to Cancer Australia, every day in Australia two women under 40 are diagnosed with breast cancer, accounting for 5% of diagnoses annually. So while the risk is minimal, it does still happen.

“Even with younger women, early diagnosis is still crucial to ensure the best outcomes, in addition to accessing the most advanced treatment.
“Women should be familiar with their breasts to notice changes. If you find something that is unusual for you, visit your doctor immediately.”

Catherine was 38 years old when she was diagnosed in 2014 with HER-2 positive breast cancer, a particularly aggressive form of the disease that can affect women of any age.  Referred to Professor Chan, Catherine believes the treatment received through BCRC-WA saved her life.
She was encouraged to continue playing netball throughout chemotherapy, and also had a vascular port inserted near her collarbone for easy administration of the chemotherapy drugs. Cathy was declared disease-free last year.

She is currently involved in an international trial using a drug shown to inhibit the cancer from recurring. The drug is only available for patients participating in the trial – and it is only being conducted in two centres in Australia, BCRC-WA being one.
Catherine’s experience highlights how BCRC-WA is providing access to improved treatment years before other breast cancer patients nationally and internationally, allowing them to benefit from the life-prolonging and life-saving results.