Examining the Future Outlook for Breast Cancer

woman wearing pink ribbon for breast cancer


There were over 50,000 new cases of breast cancer in 2010 in the UK and 12,000 women still die of the disease every year. But what will these rates be in 10 years, or 25? What are the major opportunities to reduce incidence and mortality rates and what are the corresponding implications for research and healthcare services?


Breakthrough Breast Cancer, a UK-based research charity, to answer these questions and conduct a study to assess the future outlook for breast cancer. This work informed the development of Breakthrough’s future strategic direction, helping them to achieve the best possible outcomes for people affected by breast cancer. The aims of the study were to:

  • Establish an outlook against which long-term aspirations for breast cancer can be made
  • Provide a common view of where the UK could get to in terms of controlling or preventing breast cancer in the medium and long term
  • Develop a context for decision making about long-term development and strategic change


In the study, we sought both to understand what the future of breast cancer care, treatment and services might look like, and what the opportunities and challenges were in preventing breast cancer, in the medium to long-term. We assessed not only projected incidence and mortality rates, but also the political, economic, social, technological and environmental (PESTLE) factors which could have an impact on the future of breast cancer treatment and care.

Using scenario analysis techniques, we used this assessment to develop three future scenarios for Breakthrough Breast Cancer. Each scenario was built by considering the relative likelihood of different PESTLE factors and their future impact on breast cancer incidence and mortality rates. These scenarios were used to identify: the major opportunities to reduce breast cancer incidence rates; the potential impact on health services; and the actions required to get there.

The work was presented to Breakthrough’s Board in the spring of 2012 and has formed the platform upon which their new strategic direction is built.

Research Team

Molly Morgan Jones, principal investigator
Joanna Chataway
Celine Miani

About Breakthrough Breast Cancer

Breakthrough Breast Cancer was founded in 1991 with the goal of raising £15 million and establishing the UK’s first dedicated breast cancer research centre. This goal was realised in 1999 and the Breakthrough Toby Robins Breast Cancer Research Centre opened at the Institute of Cancer Research in 1999. Since then, Breakthrough’s research activities have expanded as the expertise and profile of the organisation has grown. In addition to funding cutting-edge research, Breakthrough is active in promoting breast cancer awareness and improving breast cancer healthcare services.