New research identifies diverse barriers to breast cancer screening and treatment

February 22, 2016

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 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 breast cancer 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.

SOURCE Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center