Breast health global initiative offers unprecedented tools for developing nations

Apr 01, 2011

A landmark breast health care publication reveals a multitude of barriers that keep women of developing nations from being screened and treated for breast cancer – but offers tools to help countries improve their breast care programs.

"Global Breast Health Care: Optimizing Delivery in Low- and Middle-Resource Countries," published as a supplement to the April 1 edition of The Breast, compiles three consensus statements and 11 research papers that were based on projects and proposals presented last June at the Breast Health Global Initiative Global Summit on International Breast Health in Chicago. The summit brought together more than 150 experts from 43 countries. An executive summary of the consensus statements was published simultaneously in the April 1 edition of The Lancet Oncology.

Benjamin O. Anderson, M.D., BHGI chair and director, said the publication of breast cancer studies from low- and middle-resource countries that are easily accessible has been a longtime goal of the organization.

"These papers collectively provide insight into the societal norms, economic challenges and public policy issues of the low- and middle-resource countries," Anderson said. "They also provide models for how to improve and optimize breast health care and cancer treatment programs," he said. Anderson is a member of the Public Health Sciences Division at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and a professor of surgery at the University of Washington School of Medicine.

The supplement includes studies conducted in regions rarely researched in this context – Kashmir and Gaza Strip – and new studies from Nigeria, Malaysia and Mexico.

In the study involving war-torn Gaza, researchers found significant differences between expatriates and Gaza residents regarding breast cancer beliefs and health care- seeking behaviors, despite religious, cultural and personal similarities between the two groups. Misconceptions about – and access to – mammography services turned out to be major factors in determining who sought care.

In Kasmir, researchers worked to collect public health information and provide breast cancer awareness information and breast cancer screening to 520 women from five villages. This study provided a much needed model for combining public health outreach with breast cancer awareness and cancer screening.

In Nigeria, a study of 275 women found about 30 percent refused a diagnostic biopsy, and more than half said no to a recommended breast surgery. Researchers found that patients were thwarted by multiple barriers, including having to deliver their own biopsies to labs for processing, procure their own cancer drugs and pay in advance for procedures, including surgery.

Infrastructure barriers to treatment can exist alongside free health care. A report from Mexico found that women who suspected they had breast cancer when they visited a public clinic had to return an average of nearly seven times and wait more than six months before receiving a definitive diagnosis and treatment.

The supplement contains the first global consensus report on breast cancer in low- resource countries, which was written by 17 breast cancer experts from 12 countries. The report identifies problems common to low-resource countries by addressing key questions about breast cancer awareness, diagnosis and treatment in this economically constrained global community. While low-income countries have diverse geographical, political and socio-cultural profiles, they have similar economic and development constraints.

Key problems identified in low-resource countries include lack of public awareness and misconceptions about breast cancer, lack of pathology services to establish hormone status of tumors; treatment options limited by available equipment and drugs, a need for health professional training; and a need for supportive care services (such as side-effect treatment, palliative care and end-of-life care).

Researchers identified common strategies that can be used for improving breast cancer care in these settings. The Breast supplement provides detailed models of new programs that have improved care in low-resource countries and middle income countries, including mammography patient interventions in Chile and an integrated information system in Brazil that ties reimbursement of providers for mammography services to data collection.

Explore further: Chronic inflammation linked to 'high-grade' prostate cancer

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

No need for gene screens in breast cancer families

Jul 23, 2008

Research reported today should provide relief to women who are worried after a relative's breast cancer diagnosis. The study in the open access journal BMC Cancer shows that a family history of breast cancer does not give a ...

Recommended for you

Unraveling the 'black ribbon' around lung cancer

Apr 17, 2014

It's not uncommon these days to find a colored ribbon representing a disease. A pink ribbon is well known to signify breast cancer. But what color ribbon does one think of with lung cancer?

User comments : 0

More news stories

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Study says we're over the hill at 24

(Medical Xpress)—It's a hard pill to swallow, but if you're over 24 years of age you've already reached your peak in terms of your cognitive motor performance, according to a new Simon Fraser University study.

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.