Addressing Metastatic Breast Cancer (MBC)

Metastatic Breast Cancer (MBC) accounts for 90% of breast cancer deaths. To tackle this growing cancer burden in 2015 UICC teamed up with Pfizer Oncology to launch the Seeding Progress and Resources for the Cancer Community (SPARC) MBC Challenge

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Breast cancer is the most diagnosed cancer amongst women (2.1 million cases each year) accounting for almost 1 in 4 cancer cases. Metastatic Breast Cancer (MBC) is the most advanced stage of breast cancer and occurs when the disease spreads to other parts of the body such as lungs, brain, liver and bones. MBC accounts for 90% of breast cancer deaths.

To tackle this growing cancer burden in 2015 UICC teamed up with Pfizer Oncology to launch the Seeding Progress and Resources for the Cancer Community (SPARC) MBC Challenge. This global grant initiative seeks to support new ideas and projects from advocacy groups, hospital networks and other non-for-profit organisations working to address the specific needs of MBC patients. With the ambition of saving more lives by reducing the number of women diagnosed with breast cancer at a late stage, SPARC projects focus on closing the gap in patient information and support, growing awareness, influencing national policies and strengthening health systems. Through training, networking, mentoring and financial support, the SPARC MBC Challenge has awarded over USD 1.5 million to 51 organisations from 35 countries, helping to get their projects off the ground.

To date, SPARC has enabled 23’000 MBC patients to benefit from patient support groups , psychosocial interventions and navigation programmes. Over 1’176’000 people have been reached by MBC informational resources and awareness campaigns, and 2’625 professionals have been trained on palliative care, advocacy for MBC and patient navigation. *  

Discover each of the SPARC projects and their impact

A Selection Advisory Group of renowned experts led by Dr Fatima Cardoso carefully selected all of the 51 projects that have received a SPARC grant. Selected organisations from countries as diverse as Haiti, Canada, Tajikistan, Zambia, Romania and the Philippines all address the local needs of MBC patients in their country in a unique way. 

* Information describing the impact of the SPARC projects have been reported by the respective SPARC grantee.

A unique combination of funding, convening & learning

In addition to the seed-funding that allows the SPARC grantees to launch new projects,  UICC supports grantee organisations to deliver effective and impactful projects by proving them with training, access to international events on MBC, mentorship and peer-to-peer learning. 

  • Mentorship
  • Access to the SPARC Master Courses
  • Attendance to key events
  • International visibility and connections
  • Financial support to start new projects

SPARC Focus areas

  • Providing information and support: Improving the patient’s ability to navigate diagnosis, treatment and care services, and strengthening the level of social, economic, psychological and spiritual support for patients and their care givers. Projects can also focus on strengthening the healthcare professionals’ capacity to support the specific needs of MBC patients. 

  • Raising patient voices and awareness: Reducing stigma and increasing public awareness on MBC. Through increased awareness, these projects encourage earlier presentation and access to timely treatment to decrease the incidence of locally advanced and metastatic disease at first diagnosis. 

  • Policy and health systems: Engaging and providing policymakers with guidance on the unique challenges of metastatic disease through effective advocacy initiatives, including patients’ perspectives and needs.

The SPARC Metastatic Breast Cancer (MBC) Challenge is a UICC grants programme, delivered in partnership with Pfizer. 

Founded in 1933 and based in Geneva, UICC has over 1150 member organisations in 172 countries and territories. The membership base includes the world’s major cancer leagues and societies, research institutes, treatment centres, hospitals, ministries of health, public health agencies and patient support groups. UICC’s mission is to both unite and support the cancer community in its efforts to reduce the global cancer burden, promote greater equity and ensure that cancer control remains a priority on the global health and development agenda. 

At Pfizer, we apply science and our global resources to bring therapies to people that extend and significantly improve their lives through the discovery, development and manufacture of healthcare products. Our global portfolio includes medicines and vaccines, as well as many of the world’s best-known consumer healthcare products. We work across developed and emerging markets to advance wellness, prevention, treatments and cures that challenge the most feared diseases of our time. We collaborate with healthcare providers, governments and local communities to support and expand access to reliable, affordable healthcare around the world.

Read more in the SPARC one-pager

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UICC has a long history of building capacity for cancer organisations globally through grant making.

Ukrainian children with cancer and their families were airlifted to Spain, where they can continue their treatment and are being cared for by Fundación Aladina and other cancer organisations.

Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, UICC set up a Solidarity Fund in response to its members’ requests to bridge funding into the region to support the needs of cancer organisations struggling to assist patients affected by the conflict. 

Community Leaders Workshop

As part of its Breast Cancer Programme, UICC has awarded 15 grants to UICC members to support evidence-based projects focused on improving the availability of and access to early detection of breast cancer.

Last update

Monday 26 June 2023

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