Good news for cancer patients

  • Earlier  detection of breast cancer and new scientific discoveries improve the prospects  for hospitals and patients.
  • The five-year  overall survival of patients with breast cancer has increased by 10 percent in  the last 20 years.1
  • Novartis is the only  pharmaceutical company with four different cancer treatment platforms, and we are also developing new groundbreaking solutions dedicated to oncology patients
22. 12. 2021

2021 was a difficult year, but it brought about numerous good news for cancer patients. The results of the successful scientific research work performed by dedicated researchers are a source of encouragement for patients who suffer from numerous types of cancer diseases, and Slovenian researchers play an important role.

“At Novartis oncology we set daring scientific goals and are bold enough to envision even the cure for cancer. This way, Novartis expands the boundaries of innovation in searching for better solutions for the patients. Our legacy in changing the lives of people who live with cancer and life-threatening blood diseases goes back 30 years to the approval of the first targeted therapy and even further,” said Predrag Bogavac, General Manager at Novartis Oncology in Slovenia, at the end of the year.

Novartis brings breakthrough solutions to the field of oncology

The researchers at Novartis in cooperation with healthcare professionals and the community of patients have been developing for the last 30 years innovative targeted therapies for different types of cancer. “Since then, we have constantly been striving to find new treatments, and today our strategy is based on four platforms: targeted therapies, radioligand therapy, cell and gene therapy, and immunotherapy, with which we wish to provide the best results for our patients,” described Bogavac.

Their successful scientific research work, with an essential contribution of the doctors, brings new hope to patients with various cancer diseases. They are exceptionally proud of their innovative targeted therapy, which is an important breakthrough in the field of breast cancer treatment, especially the metastatic breast cancer. They strive to develop therapies that not only prolong the life of patients with this type of cancer but also improve it.

“Slovenia has an important role in the development  and production of Novartis active ingredients and medicines, which also applies  to oncology medicines and particularly medicines to treat breast cancer,” said Prof. Uroš Urleb, PhD., Executive Director Scientific Office Biologics  & Cell and gene therapies, Technical research and development at Novartis.  To have an important role in providing medicines for breast cancer treatment is  also the Novartis unit Chemical Operations Mengeš, as two active pharmaceutical ingredients for these important modern medicines are produced there.

Breast cancer is increasingly common, but hope for patients also increases

Breast cancer is the second most common type of cancer1 in women in Slovenia, and among women aged 20 to 74 it is the most common.1 All too often we believe that men cannot get breast cancer, but that assumption is false: each year in Slovenia, 10 to 15 men develop breast cancer, and each year some of them lose their lives to the disease.1 In 2018, 11 men and 1,515 women in Slovenia got breast cancer.1 It is estimated that up until then there were 118 men and 18,572 women with breast cancer among the Slovenian population1 – that is almost a whole percent of the entire population. Five men and 473 women died of breast cancer that year.1

The incidence of breast cancer in Slovenia is increasing by 2.4 percent yearly. But due to an earlier detection of the disease and new scientific discoveries, the prospects for patients are improving. The most modern therapies under the careful guidance of doctors can allow a patient to manage the disease well and lead a quality life with breast cancer. The five-year overall survival of patients with breast cancer increased by 10 percent in the last 20 years.1 Overall survival is the period of a patient’s life from the beginning of therapy. In clinical trials, it is a direct way to establish whether a new therapy contributes to an increased lifespan compared to other therapies. In other words, does it add more days or even years to a patient’s life.

One year is a lifetime

A healthy person may not see a year as a significant portion of time, but to a patient with cancer another year of life may feel like a lifetime: they may live to witness the birth of their grandchildren or attend their son’s prom dance or admire their daughter on her wedding day.

We can do a lot for our health ourselves – let us make good use of the holiday season and dedicate it to our health. Let us calm down for a moment and consider whether we are leading a healthy lifestyle. The incidence and mortality of cancer can be reduced by determining cancer risk factors and by reducing the exposure to these factors as much as possible.2

This holds true for women who neglect themselves too often as well as men for whom we often believe that they cannot get breast cancer – this unfortunately is not true, as a little less than one percent of patients are men.3

 1. Rak v  Sloveniji, letno poročilo 2018 (Cancer in  Slovenia, annual report 2018). Ljubljana: Institute of Oncology Ljubljana, Epidemiology and Cancer Registry, Cancer Registry of Republic of Slovenia, 2018. Last accessed on: December 10, 2021.

2. Europa Donna – Slovensko združenje za boj proti raku dojk  (Slovenian Breast Cancer Association). Ostani zdrav (Stay Healthy). Accessible at: Last accessed on: December 10, 2021.

3. Europa Donna – Slovensko združenje za boj proti raku dojk (Slovenian Breast Cancer Association). Rak dojk pri moškem (Breast Cancer in Men). Accessible at: Last accessed on: December 10, 2021.

* * *

Novartis is reimagining medicine to improve and extend people’s lives. As a leading global medicines company, we use innovative science and digital technologies to create transformative treatments in areas of great medical need. In our quest to find new medicines, we consistently rank among the world’s top companies investing in research and development. Novartis products reach nearly 800 million people globally, and we are finding innovative ways to expand access to our latest treatments. About 110,000 people of more than 140 nationalities work at Novartis around the world. Novartis is the leading provider of medicines in Slovenia, operating through Novartis Pharma Services Inc., Podružnica v Sloveniji, Lek, and Sandoz. Find out more at

* * *

This press release contains statements and conclusions based on projections of the future business operations. These estimates are derived from the best information currently available. In case these forecasts prove unreliable, the actual results could prove different from those projected.

- end -

For more information please contact:
Katarina  Klemenc
Head Communications and Patient Engagement
Phone: +386 1 580 22 43