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Health Experts Release Recommendations For Fighting Breast Cancer In Low-, Middle-Income Countries

“Worldwide breast cancer incidence and mortality are expected to increase by 50 percent from 2002 and 2020 – and those rates will be highest in developing nations,” according to a review article published Friday in Lancet Oncology that describes several challenges low- and middle-income countries face in diagnosing and treating such conditions, the Huffington Post reports. The review features a series of recommendations, generated from discussions and reports presented during the Breast Health Global Initiative (BHGI) meeting last year, which drew together more than 150 health experts from 43 countries to discuss breast cancer management in low- and middle-resource countries (LMCs).

The resulting recommendations, which Benjamin Anderson, chair and director of BHGI, “described as a ‘blueprint’ for change, address roadblocks to better care, including inadequate pathology services and limited data collection,” the publication writes (Pearson, 4/2).

The review highlights how a lack of awareness about cancer and access to health services contribute to late-stage diagnoses of cancer in LMCs, according to a Lancet press release. Additionally, health care workers in LMCs may lack sufficient expertise to accurately diagnose cancer cases and the surgical skills to remove malignant tissue, and patients may be unable to afford treatments to slow the spread of cancer (4/1).

The report “stresses the critical importance of better awareness campaigns, which cost relatively little money,” and “outlines additional obstacles…, including insufficient data collection at the regional and national levels in LMCs, as well as program infrastructure problems. There is a need for more equipment and appropriate drugs, as well as improved health professional training in economically constrained countries,” the Huffington Post reports (4/2).

The review authors conclude, “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 optimise breast cancer care for underserved women worldwide” (Anderson et al., April 2011).