Breast Cancer Survival Factors for Underserved Identified

Limited awareness that breast cancer is treatable hinders survival in low-income countries

MONDAY, April 4 (HealthDay News) -- Advanced stages at presentation, and limited diagnostic and treatment capabilities, contribute to lower breast cancer survival in low-income and middle-income countries (LMC), according to the executive summary of the Breast Health Global Initiative Consensus 2010, published in the April issue of The Lancet Oncology.

Benjamin O. Anderson, M.D., from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, and colleagues from the Breast Health Global Initiative analyzed breast cancer control and implementation strategies for LMC. More than 150 experts from 43 countries and six continents reviewed the available literature addressing prevention, early detection, diagnosis, treatment, and palliative care for patients with breast cancer in LMCs published between 2000 and 2008.

The experts found that LMCs have lower breast cancer survival rates due to presentation at advanced stage of disease and poor diagnostic, staging, and treatment capacities. Challenges experienced by health care systems in LMCs include poor data collection, lack of program infrastructure (appropriate equipment, drug acquisitions, and professional training), and the need for research to support decision making and strategies to improve patient access and compliance. The biggest issues identified for low-income countries are limited community awareness of the treatable nature of breast cancer and inadequate pathology services and treatment options. For middle-income countries, data registry establishment and maintenance as well as coordination of multidiscipline centers are the most challenging issues.

"Differences exist both between and within countries, which suggest a need to look more closely at subpopulations within each country or region to understand better how to optimize breast cancer care for underserved women worldwide," the authors write.

Several members of the Breast Health Global Initiative disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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