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New Guidelines Promise Better Results In Breast Cancer Care

Armen Hareyan's picture

Breast Cancer Care Guidelines

International guidelines for the detection, care and management of breast cancer are now available in Spanish thanks to a partnership between the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the Breast Health Global Initiative (BHGI).

The Guidelines for International Breast Health and Cancer Control, published in English in an updated form last year, are intended to help policymakers and health care providers in low- and middle-income countries improve breast cancer outcomes through evidence-based, economically feasible, and culturally appropriate practices. The guidelines address a full range of issues including early detection and access to care, diagnosis and pathology, treatment and resource allocation, and health care systems and public policy.

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Breast cancer is newly diagnosed in more than 1 million women each year and is the most common cause of cancer-related deaths among women worldwide. Women in low- and middle-income countries are more likely to die of the disease than those in richer countries, in part because their cancers are commonly detected and treated in advanced stages, when treatment is more expensive and least successful.

"Breast cancer is a growing problem in Latin America, with some 90,000 cases reported every year, many of them at advanced stages because of poor access to preventive and curative services," said PAHO Director Dr. Mirta Roses. "The availability of these guidelines in Spanish will be an important contribution for those interested in expanding health services to reach Latin American women early and to improve their quality of life."

Major scientific advances in detection and management of breast cancer have improved outcomes in developed countries, but health care providers in lower income countries face resource constraints that limit their ability to apply these advances to improve breast cancer care. The Guidelines for International Breast Health and Cancer Control address this problem by recommending the most appropriate and applicable "best practices" for countries with limited resources.

The guidelines recommend a stepwise, tiered system of resource allocation on four levels