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Supporting women with secondary breast cancer

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Minister for Health and Ageing


15 October 2010

Supporting Women with Secondary Breast Cancer

A booklet which provides guidance on how to conduct important and often difficult conversations around palliative care for women whose breast cancer has spread, was launched today by Nicola Roxon, the Minister for Health and Ageing, at the Pink Ribbon Lunch in Melbourne.

Finding the words - starting a conversation when your cancer has progressed has been produced by the National Breast and Ovarian Cancer Centre (NBOCC), a national coordination centre funded by the Australian government to improve breast cancer outcomes through the translation of research evidence into policy and practice.

The booklet is designed to help women with secondary cancer talk about how palliative care might help them to live as well as possible when their cancer has spread.

The words ‘palliative care’ can, understandably, strike fear into the hearts of cancer sufferers and their loved ones.

This booklet highlights that palliative care is not just about end of life treatment but about helping relieve symptoms and improve day to day life for cancer sufferers.

The Gillard Government is strongly committed to the prevention, treatment and quality care of women diagnosed with breast cancer. That is why we have been very active in the fight against breast cancer.

In the 2009 Budget, the Government committed a record $2 billion to build a world-class cancer care system in Australia.

This included $120 million to upgrade BreastScreen Australia services nationally to utilise digital mammography technology and $168 million to fund the Herceptin® program for the treatment of metastatic or advanced breast cancer.

The Australian Government has also provided funding for the training of specialist breast care nurses, support for care of women in rural areas diagnosed with breast cancer, the reimbursement of breast prostheses costs and research to help better understand the progression and treatment of breast cancer.

Building on these measures the Government will also create a single national cancer control agency to further strengthen the Government’s strategic focus on cancer control and build a better health and hospital system.

The new strengthened Cancer Australia will be formed through the amalgamation of Cancer Australia with the successful National Breast and Ovarian Cancer Centre (NBOCC), the Government’s expert centre on breast and ovarian cancer control. This planned amalgamation will benefit all Australians who are affected by cancer, and their families and carers, by continuing the Government’s focus on cancer research, prevention, diagnosis and treatment through a single national cancer control agency.

Breast and ovarian cancer patients and their families can be assured that these cancers will remain a priority of the Australian Government as the new Cancer Australia will continue a focus on breast and ovarian cancer as it delivers the Government’s broader cancer programs and research priorities.

The Government also provides substantial financial assistance to state and territory governments for the provision of palliative. In addition the National Palliative Care Program, with funding of over $20 million annually, supports a number of national initiatives to complement state and territory palliative care services.

NBOCC resources are available free of charge within Australia. To order, phone 1800 624 973 or visit

For all media inquiries, please contact the Minister's Office on 02 6277 7220