October is painted pink. The color is meant to remind people of the importance of prevention and early detection of breast cancer.
It is, after all, the second most common cancer in the world and, by far, the most frequent cancer among women. *
Few people understand how patients experience this disease beyond what the pink movement is all about: the early stages of the cancer – prevention, awareness, and hopefully, cure. However, not much is being said about patients living with metastatic breast cancer, the advanced stage of the disease. For these patients, the journey isn’t about getting cured; it is about surviving one day at a time.
Advanced Breast Cancer (ABC) refers to a stage when the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. This means that there is no way back. The women -and men- living with ABC have to accept that they will need to be in therapy for the rest of their lives -to prolong it and maintain their quality of life.
In regions like Latin America, which has one of the highest incidences of ABC **, there is an ongoing battle to provide patients with the right information and resources to help them throughout their journey. The biggest barrier for women with ABC in Latin America is the lack of access to information about innovative treatments and patient support. That’s why educational initiatives have been the focus of some healthcare industry partners who want people to see beyond the “pink filter” during October.
Novartis, in collaboration with Newlink, has designed and executed several campaigns to raise awareness about ABC and close the information gap that patients face.
In 2015, Newlink developed an integrated communications plan with the objective of empowering ABC patients and caregivers to play an active role in conversations and decisions throughout their treatment journey. The campaign was based on the Global Novartis campaign “Count us. Know us. Join us,” which gave a voice to patients around the world, so they could speak up about their unmet medical and emotional needs.
Newlink developed a tip sheet with suggestions for patients on what to do and ask before, during and after a doctor’s visit. We also collaborated with patient organizations in different Latin American countries to recruit patients who were featured in a series of short videos. In these videos the patients helped the world to learn about ABC, and encouraged people to participate in a social media campaign, to count them, know them and join them in their journey! The videos were shared during the month of October on social media, and became viral both organically –through the participating patient organizations– as well as through paid Facebook ads.
The video campaign achieved strong engagement and nearly 75,000 full video views, surpassing its initial objectives by 2,387%. There was also an increase in traffic of 125% to the Spanish version of the website www.advancedbreastcancercommunity.org.
Notwithstanding, ongoing innovation in treatment and ever-present patient needs mean that neither the industry nor Newlink can rest on their laurels. There is continuous development of new and promising treatment options that can be combined with existing drugs to improve and extend progression-free survival, with the potential to become the new standard of care for patients with ABC. Hence the need to do more to educate all actors in the patient ecosystem, to ensure that patients can actually benefit from these scientific advancements.
Given the outlook, at Newlink, we remain convinced that the solutions can be spotted with a patient-centric communication vision, and achieved through our Patient Engagement Program, which can help the industry:
• Understand ABC patients’ level of education, expectations and knowledge gaps to access these new treatment options
• Leverage insights to create multiplatform content that helps fill the gaps
• Collaborate with patient advocates, physicians, media and the ever-more empowered patients to share information and get to who needs it most
All patients with ABC, not just those fortunate enough to catch the disease in its early stages - can and should be better prepared to face it.