Transforming the breast cancer patient experience requires a collective collaborative approach


Dave Fredrickson, Executive Vice-President, Oncology Business Unit

Partnership is more important than ever


At AstraZeneca, we look forward to the annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium (SABCS) every year as an important opportunity to reflect on progress, and challenges, in the fight against breast cancer and to renew goals for the upcoming year and beyond.

AstraZeneca has been at the forefront of breast cancer innovation for over 40 years, and pushing boundaries has always been part of our DNA. To put ourselves in the best position to push the boundaries of science and change the practice of medicine, we seek to address patients with the greatest unmet needs across subtypes of breast cancer, and redefine treatment pathways. To do this, we have a strong focus on collaboration with the scientific community to expand our pipeline with transformative breast cancer medicines and to understand the role of new biomarkers to target breast cancer.

When we look back at this year, which was like no other in recent history, we do see a strong and hopeful thread in the midst of a pandemic. And, that is progress comes with powerful partnership.

Just one year ago

For us, SABCS 2019 was a highpoint of our progress marking the acceleration of our ambition in breast cancer to make a difference for those living with HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer. It’s where our first global collaboration with Daiichi Sankyo came to fruition with data from a HER2-directed antibody drug conjugate (ADC). HER2-expressing metastatic breast cancers are an area of high unmet need for patients despite recent improvements and approvals of new medicines, and with our partnership we seized the opportunity to help transform the treatment landscape for these patients. 

Building on the success of our first partnership with Daiichi Sankyo, earlier this year we entered into another global development and commercialisation agreement for Daiichi Sankyo’s proprietary trophoblast cell-surface antigen 2 (TROP2)-directed ADC, an investigational compound for the treatment of multiple tumour types, including breast cancer. TROP2 is overexpressed in the majority of breast cancers including up to 80% of patients with triple-negative breast cancer1,2, an aggressive form of breast cancer3. TROP2 is recognised as a promising molecular target for therapeutic development in various cancers.4

Overall, this collaboration reflects AstraZeneca’s ongoing strategy to invest in ADCs as a class, to invest in innovative technology, and to invest further in our successful collaborations.

Then COVID-19 emerged

As the global pandemic began to wreak havoc across the world, AstraZeneca met with hundreds of patient advocacy groups to discuss concerns around what a halt in cancer care services could mean for patients, including people with breast cancer. Recognising the need to mobilise to avoid major setbacks in the remarkable progress that has been made against cancer in recent decades, AstraZeneca swiftly worked with these cancer patient coalitions worldwide to create the “New Normal, Same Cancer” awareness campaign to address the drop in cancer screenings and care during the pandemic. While “New Normal, Same Cancer” provides one path to progress, more are needed.

October brought Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October provided an ideal opportunity to address the ongoing unmet needs in breast cancer and the need to pivot in response to the “new normal” to maintain and continue progress during the COVID-19 pandemic. AstraZeneca convened an important panel of experts from the field of breast cancer care:  Baroness Delyth Morgan, Breast Cancer Now; Dr. Richard Simcock, Consultant Medical Advisor, Macmillan Cancer Support; and Prof. Julie Gralow, University of Washington. Highlights from the insightful discussion include how the breast cancer community can innovate and transform the experience for breast cancer patients, including early screening and diagnosis with digital technology, e.g., telehealth, reimagining the patient care model with the continued decentralisation of healthcare, and accelerating the new paradigm of personalized treatment with biomarker testing. 

Watch highlights from the discussion below:

SABCS 2020 showcases how we are driving impact in collaboration with the scientific community

At this premier breast oncology meeting, our dedication to helping transform the lives of those living with breast cancer will be front and centre with new data and updates from six different medicines, including abstracts from both AstraZeneca sponsored or supported trials with our partners and externally sponsored scientific research (ESR), which play an important role in expanding the medical and scientific understanding of our medicines, and in identifying associated areas of unmet need in breast cancer.

This incredible amount of collaboration is helping to accelerate a deeper understanding of breast cancer biology, further understanding of the role of our medicines in the real-world, and bring new medicines to patients. It is a true testament to our belief in the importance of working together to transform breast cancer care and advance science.

In conclusion, AstraZeneca is committed to improving outcomes for patients with breast cancer and working with the wider breast cancer community – across government, patient groups, and industry – to ensure all patients have the opportunity to receive the best care possible. We are open to following the science wherever it takes us and looking both internally and externally to form strong partnerships that enable us to source and develop the right medicines for patients. By connecting the brightest minds we can accelerate innovation and one day revolutionize breast cancer care.


1. Zhao W, et al. Trop2 is a potential biomarker for the promotion of EMT in human breast cancer. Oncol Rep. 2018; 40 (2): 759-766.

2. Zaman S, et al. Targeting Trop-2 in solid tumors: future prospects. Onco Targets Ther. 2019; 12: 1781-1790.

3. (2020).Triple-Negative Breast Cancer | Details, Diagnosis, And Signs. Available at: [Accessed May 2020].

4. Zeng P, et al. Impact of TROP2 expression on prognosis in solid tumors: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Sci Rep. 2016; 6: e33658.