In a comprehensive review of breast cancer research, Britain's most influential breast cancer experts have identified the key loopholes in breast cancer treatment, warning that thousands of women die from the disease each year because current treatments are not always effective and in some cases fail to stop the disease.
The report by Breast Cancer Campaign, a UK based charity, has identified the key research gaps and priorities for the greatest potential impact on patients.
The report gas highlighted that though breast cancer treatment has improved over the past few decades and led to increased survival rates and better quality of life, over 44,000 women in the UK are diagnosed with breast cancer each year.
Unfortunately, not enough is known about why treatments don't work for some patients or why breast cancer can return, sometimes many years later, says Breast Cancer Campaign.
The researchers say that the new study, one of the largest ever carried out in the UK, is a unique insight into the current state of breast cancer research and its future challenges.
Gaps in key areas of breast cancer research such as prevention, detection, spread or recurrence of the disease, treatment, pathology, physiology, genetics and psychosocial aspects of the disease, have been identified in the report.
Breast Cancer Campaign has also put forth some recommendations for future research priorities. These are - identify new ways to predict and prevent breast cancer; predict who will develop advanced or secondary disease; determine how and why breast cancer spreads to other parts of the body; devise a suitable method to determine the effectiveness of a treatment at an early stage; understand more about the psychosocial and psychological impacts of breast cancer.
Pamela Goldberg, Chief Executive Breast Cancer Campaign said, "Breast cancer research has made considerable progress over the past two decades and vital work is still underway. But there are still significant knowledge gaps."
"Greater attention must be paid to all stages of breast cancer. The experiences of older women and those from minority ethnic groups must be considered, particularly in light of recent research showing breast cancer develops earlier in black women and their survival rates are poorer," she added.
The study is published by the open access journal Breast Cancer Research.