The quality of life of women affected by metastatic breast cancer can improve also thanks to careful and transparent communication and sharing of information to allow for informed and effective decision-making. This is the guiding principle of SDA Bocconi’s Shareview project (Supporting shared decision-making and communication in metastatic breast cancer), one of seven selected projects in the “Improving care of metastatic breast cancer patients in Europe” initiative. This is the European request for proposals for research into metastatic breast cancer sponsored by Pfizer Global Medical Grants in partnership with SPCC. SPCC - Sharing Progress in Cancer Care – is an independent non-profit organization dedicated to disseminating and integrating knowledge and information on scientific and clinical progress in cancer treatment. The project also involves important stakeholders such as Europa Donna Italia, the association of social promotion for the right to prevention and treatment of breast cancer, the International Drug Development Institute (IDDI) in Leuven, Fundação D. Anna de Sommer Champalimaud and Dr Carlos Montez Champalimaud, a biomedical research center in Lisbon, and the Azienda sanitaria universitaria Friuli Centrale (ASU FC).
The fundamentals of good clinical practice in cancer care include effective communication of the diagnosis and treatment options to patients and family members. While there is no single approach or best decision, a shared decision-making process is key to ensure better treatment acceptance and adherence. The general objective of the Shareview project, submitted by SDA Bocconi and approved by an independent review panel established by SPCC, is to improve quality of care by studying current communication, information and decision-making practices and revising the approaches used in Europe.
The goal of the initiative, which was launched in July 2020, is to encourage European healthcare institutions and organizations to improve the quality of metastatic breast cancer care and treatment through targeted funding, bridging gaps in current clinical practice. The request for proposals proved a success, attracting 56 projects from many private and public bodies all over Europe, including non-profit organizations, universities, hospitals, cancer research centers and institutes. Winners have been awarded overall grants of 1.5 million dollars to carry out their projects.
The seven winning programs are now entering the operational execution stage, to be completed by July 2023. SDA Bocconi’s Shareview project will map current approaches and shared practices over a 16-month period, using these as a basis for developing and trialing a system to support patients’, family members’ and other stakeholders’ decisions.
The need for an initiative of this magnitude is greater today than ever before. According to data published by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in December 2020, people diagnosed with breast cancer outnumbered those with lung cancer for the first time, making it by far the most common type of cancer worldwide. The Global Cancer Observatory also anticipates a rise from 530,700 cases in Europe in 2020 to an estimated 569,300 in 2040.
The quality of life of women with metastatic breast cancer has improved over recent years, in part thanks to more effective treatments and the opportunity to access specialized centers (Breast Units). But there is still a long way to go to ensure the best possible quality of life for patients, considering that the psychological impact of this condition is very strong on their personal, relational and working life, as well as their finances. Seen the complexity of the phenomenon, any approach to treatment, side effects, doctor-to-patient communication and the training of healthcare personnel needs to be articulated and cross-functional.
SDA Bocconi School of Management