A breast cancer diagnosis is traumatic, but the type of breast cancer matters. Those patients who are diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer (MBC) have an especially hard time navigating treatment decisions. "Mets", as it is sometimes referred to, accounts for 40,000 deaths per year. In the US, MBC is responsible for 7% of the total cancer deaths. Patients are told the hard facts of MBC at diagnosis. The disease is incurable, it's terminal and the average life span after diagnosis is 33 months. It's a lot to take in.
The Broad Institute has partnered with the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston to create The Metastatic Breast Cancer Project. Its goal is to create a database of information and tumor samples from MBC patients all across the country. Women can go on to the website, click one button that says "Count Me In" and the project will be able to access that woman's patient records and stored tumor samples. By gaining access to this information, researchers can harness the power of Big Data to find trends in the disease, commonalities in treatments, and get a better idea of what works and what doesn't. In addition, patients who are undergoing treatment for MBC can feel a part of the process, a part of the research that someday might find a cure.