PREFERABLE is an international collaborative project that focusses on physical exercise to combat fatigue in metastatic breast cancer (MBC) patients funded by the European Union within its biggest research and innovation programme Horizon 2020.

At a Glance

Ms. M has been diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. She has started systemic therapy and at the same time she is trying to live a (relatively) normal life. She brings her children to school, works 4 days a week, and enjoys organising dinner parties for friends. However, the therapy regimens make her very tired, making it difficult for her to pursue and enjoy these ‘normal life’ activities. Also, her partner is worried that the quality of life she experiences in these final stages is suboptimal. The partner experiences a burden by trying to provide her with the care she needs to improve her quality of life. There is thus a great unmet need for interventions that have potential to alleviate cancer-related fatigue in these patients.

Key facts about Metastatic Breast Cancer

  • Breast cancer (BC) is the most common cancer in women worldwide with an estimated 1.7 million new cases each year;
  • BC is the leading cause of cancer death among women. In 2015, it was estimated that there were 560,000 deaths due to BC globally;
  • In men, BC is a rare disease (only 1% of breast cancers occur in men), for that reason it is usually diagnosed late, reducing the chances of cure;
  • Up to approximately 40% of women who have been diagnosed with early breast cancer will eventually develop metastases;
  • A 43% increase in absolute number of deaths due to BC is expected by 2030 (from 2015);
  • The global economic impact of BC due to disability and premature death has been estimated at €71,5 billion;
  • Metastatic breast cancer (MBC) will remain the most expensive cancer to cure and it is currently being considered an incurable disease;
  • Patients with MBC face a median overall survival of 2-3 years and a 5-year survival of 34%;
  • In the past decade, there have been few (pharmaceutical) innovations regarding treatment for MBC;
  • Patients with BC (including MBC) experience significant disease and treatment-related side effects, such as fatigue, nausea, insomnia, hair loss, loss of appetite, pain and digestive tract problems amongst others;
  • The most common and debilitating side effect is fatigue which has a constant presence during treatment, and increases incrementally with consecutive treatment cycles.