Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Breast Cancer is a Global Issue

By Deb Kirkland, RN, BSN, MPH
Nurse Navigator, Herman & Walter Samuelson Breast Center at Northwest Hospital

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women around the globe. In 2002, there were 1.2 million cases globally, and over 400,000 deaths. The number of cases is projected to increase to 1.5 million each year. During the month of October, I had the unique opportunity to participate as a U.S. Delegate with Susan G. Komen for the Cure Global Mission in Cairo, Egypt.

Cairo, which has a population of 20 million people, has a visibly disturbing poverty level. After visiting the city's hospitals, National Cancer Institute, and Breast Cancer Foundations, it was an eye-opening experience to see and hear first hand about how the disease has impacted women there. Our latest cutting-edge tools to treat breast cancer would not translate well into such a setting; rather the goal is to apply methods that are appropriate, effective, and applicable.

But, sadly, problems with breast cancer awareness, early diagnosis, treatment and survivor rates are universal. In addition to those challenges, there are cultural stigmas that create major barriers to overcome. Lighting the pyramids pink at night for breast cancer awareness and holding the first Race for the Cure around the Great Pyramids, with over 10,000 participants and 300 survivors, was an initial effort to make it more acceptable to discuss this disease. To see survivors proudly wear their pink T-shirts in that culture was more impressive than seeing the pyramids themselves. You can see a picture here.

In the U.S., we survivors are proud and wear the pink as a badge of honor in surviving; in other cultures it is still taboo and many myths exist regarding the disease. Overall, it made me proud to be an American, proud to have the access and health care we expect. We have many treatment options and resources available that many countries do not.


Pooja said...

Yes, I agree breast cancer is the most common type of cancer that affects the women. Effective methods are used to reduce the risk of breast cancer. Thanks for the image, survivors are really strong. For more details on different types of cancer and causes of cancer refer what causes cancer

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