Top 10 Research Priorities for Metastatic Breast Cancer

We’ve said it before, and we will keep saying it: stage four needs more.

More attention, more urgency, and more research. Rethink is a part of the Metastatic Breast Cancer Priority Setting Partnership, which has been working to identify the top research priorities for the metastatic breast cancer community. By surveying patients, care providers and clinicians, the partnership set out to determine what research is needed to improve the treatment and quality of life of patients with metastatic breast cancer. From here, the Partnership will find funding opportunities to address these unique concerns.

Here’s what was found:

1. Biomarkers

What biomarkers or intrinsic features of the tumour can be used to identify response to specific treatments and dosing schedules?

2. Immunotherapy

What is the role of immunotherapy for metastatic breast cancer?  

3. Treatment Resistance

How can treatment resistance be delayed, and minimized?


4. Metastasis

What causes (i.e. cellular, genomic changes) breast cancer cells to metastasize, and what changes allow them to penetrate the blood-brain barrier?

5. Sequence

What is the right sequence of therapy in metastatic breast cancer?  

6. Local Therapy

Does local therapy (radiation or surgery to sites of metastatic disease) improve survival outcomes in metastatic breast cancer?  

7. Continuous vs. Intermittent

Is continuous treatment with systemic therapy (including HER2-targeted therapy and chemotherapy) better than intermittent treatment?  

8. Palliative Care

Does early palliative care improve outcomes for metastatic breast cancer patients?


9. Methods of Education

What are the best methods of education for patients around treatment options and decision making that can lead to improved patient outcomes?

 10. Detection

Can safer, more accurate methods, including blood tests of detecting spread of disease (including following curative intent treatment) be developed?

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