Female breast cancer has now surpassed lung cancer as the most commonly diagnosed cancer. If detected early enough, however, it can be treated successfully. Indeed, in high-income countries such as the US, the five-year survival rate of women with non-metastatic invasive breast cancer is as high as 90%.
Yet in many parts of the world, notably in low- and middle-income countries, breast cancers are detected at more advanced stages, when the disease has spread to another part of the body. In these cases, survival rates can drop below 50% – in extreme cases, such as in Gambia and Mali, they can be lower than 20%. Discrepancies in survival rates also often exist within high-income countries for hard-to-reach populations.
WHO’s Global Breast Cancer Initiative, launched last year on International Women’s Day, set out three pillars for comprehensive breast cancer control: health promotion; timely and quality access to diagnosis; and comprehensive treatment and supportive care.
Through early detection and the downstaging of disease, significant progress can be made in reducing global breast cancer mortality. For this reason, as part of its Breast Cancer Programme, UICC will be offering seed-funding to UICC members for projects offering an evidence-based approach to improving the availability of and access to early detection.
It is critical, however, that efforts to raise awareness and strengthen diagnostic services are linked to effective referral mechanisms, as well as to appropriate and affordable treatment, to fully realise the gains that can be achieved.
“Building on the success of the six-year SPARC Metastatic Breast Cancer Challenge, this initiative seeks to help address the significant disparities that exist between regions and populations in terms of breast cancer outcomes, and close the gap in survival rates through improvements in access to and awareness of the importance of early detection.”
– Dr Kirstie Graham, Director of Capacity Building, UICC
The call for applications opens on 29 March 2022. UICC will award a maximum of 15 grants of USD 20,000 to each selected project.
To be considered for the grants, projects must demonstrate how their activities or outputs will be sustainable in the long term. Furthermore, they must offer an approach that is resource-appropriate, evidence-based and increases access to disadvantaged or otherwise hard-to-reach populations.
Four projects from Botswana, Brazil, Jordan and Kenya were awarded grants in 2021 and illustrate the type of projects that would be eligible for funding in 2022. These projects exemplify different strategies to detect and diagnose breast cancer earlier, such as:
Submissions will be reviewed by an independent committee consisting of leading experts in the field of breast cancer and chaired by Dr Julie Gralow, Chief Medical Officer of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.
“Survival rates for breast cancer are highest when it is detected early, accompanied by timely access to treatment,” said ASCO Chief Medical Officer Julie R. Gralow, MD, FACP, FASCO. “It’s critical that we support innovative programs enabling early diagnosis for all patients so they may have the best chances for a good outcome. We applaud these new grants for organizations working to improve early detection as an important step toward this goal.”
– Dr Julie Gralow, Chief Medical Officer of the American Society of Clinical Oncology
UICC is grateful for the support of the Breast Cancer Programme partners in enabling UICC to provide this opportunity to its members, in particular funding raised by the Pink Dial project, organised by Revolution Watch.