Despite advances in research, diagnosis and treatment, breast cancer continues to place a heavy burden on individuals, families and health care systems. Some 2.1 million new cases are recorded every year and in 2018, over 600,000 lives were lost to this disease. Yet, if detected early enough, breast cancer is curable.
To support progress in fighting rising breast cancer incidence and mortality, UICC is launching a new five-year Breast Cancer Programme, as organisations around the world mark Breast Cancer Awareness Month this October.
“While the incidence of breast cancer is generally higher in more developed regions, the number of cases is rising in low- and middle-income countries and they are often diagnosed later, leading to more serious outcomes. The Breast Cancer Programme is part of a broader UICC commitment to women’s cancers and will strengthen the capacity of key breast cancer actors in order to reverse these trends. This not only promises to prevent thousands of premature deaths but also contributes to greater equity in cancer care.”
- HRH Princess Dina Mired of Jordan, President of UICC.
In line with its ambition to engage all actors from the breast cancer community, UICC’s Breast Cancer Programme is a multi-partnership initiative gathering leading organisations from the private sector, development agencies and NGOs. The Programme is supported by Pfizer, as a founding partner, with whom UICC has enjoyed a strong six-year partnership in addressing metastatic breast cancer, as well as Daiichi Sankyo, the Center for Global Health in the US National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health, and is connected to the Breast Health Global Initiative and BCI 2.5.
The Breast Cancer Programme aims to achieve six main outcomes by 2025:
“Key to reversing rising mortality due to breast cancer is our ability to work together to leverage and expand the will and resources that currently exist, supporting the creation of a common agenda to maximise impact. In practical terms, with the necessary funding, our ambition for the UICC’s Breast Cancer Programme is to support 50,000 breast cancer patients, mentor 150 breast cancer organisations, train 170 organisations and 5,000 health professions in advocacy, communications, fundraising, monitoring and evaluation, and mobilise 1,500 cancer organisations.”
- Dr Cary Adams, CEO of UICC
The Breast Cancer Programme will initiate several projects in its first year of implementation. It will lead a Project ECHO® course on breast cancer control, which will support 100 individuals over a period of six months to develop and implement evidence-informed and locally relevant breast cancer projects. It will provide tailored mentoring to five patient groups in the Middle-East region, as part of the extension of the Patient Group Mentoring Programme, and mentor two organisations focused on advocacy in the framework of the Cancer Advocates programme. It will also enable 10 healthcare professionals to benefit from a Technical Fellowship, one of UICC’s most established programmes. Finally, in 2021 the Programme will gather key breast cancer actors to discuss a framework for action to reduce the breast cancer burden.
As with other platforms developed by UICC, the Breast Cancer Programme has been designed to respond to the new challenges faced by society and the cancer community with regard to the coronavirus pandemic. In October, a series of UICC Virtual Dialogues will be dedicated to breast cancer, including early cancer detection (understanding early cancer screening vs early cancer diagnosis in breast cancer) and tools for effective breast cancer control programmes. Other topics will be added in the course of the coming months.
“Since 2015, we’ve joined forces with UICC to support organisations around the world to overcome challenges in breast cancer care. Today, as a founding partner of the new Breast Cancer Programme, we are proud to continue our commitment to the global breast cancer community to help improve the availability of services and expand national cancer control plans to ensure everyone has access to the care they need and deserve.”
- Andy Schmeltz, Global President, Pfizer Oncology
Gissoo DeCotiis, Global Medical Affairs, Oncology Advocacy at Daiichi Sankyo, said: “The very real issue of health disparities and inequities has been brought to light as a result of the pandemic, but this issue is certainly not limited to COVID-19. It is more important than ever that global health care leaders come together and support all communities disproportionately impacted by certain diseases, like breast cancer. There are a number of factors that have the potential to impact breast cancer incidence around the world, including race and ethnicity or access to quality of care, and we are proud to partner with UICC on this incredibly important program that we hope will help address these disparities and accelerate progress in the control of breast cancer.”
Dr Satish Gopal, Director of the Center for Global Health (CGH) at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), said: “The NCI Center for Global Health seeks to advance global cancer research, global cancer research training, and science-based global cancer control through a variety of programs and partnerships. Examples of such collaborations with UICC include its Technical Fellowships, scientific workshops at the World Cancer Congress, and evidence dissemination through the International Cancer Control Partnership, to name a few. This new opportunity to collaborate with UICC on its consolidated Breast Cancer Programme, particularly through technical support of the Project ECHO course, is an excellent way to continue our efforts with partners to ensure that current scientific evidence informs international cancer control efforts.”
Finally, Allison Ekberg Dvaladze, BHGI Executive Committee Member and Health Policy Advisor at the World Health Organization, stated: “It is through continued and longstanding collaborations such as those between BHGI, NCI, UICC and others that the Knowledge Summaries for Comprehensive Breast Cancer Control (KSBC) were developed. The new UICC Breast Cancer Programme builds on this history of harnessing the effort and expertise of clinicians, advocates and policymakers from around the world to collectively advance the development, dissemination and implementation of evidence-based and locally relevant breast cancer initiatives to reduce disparities in breast cancer outcomes globally.”