Despite advances and progress seen in breast cancer in recent years, and extensive mobilisation of civil society groups around the world, current data highlight that breast cancer incidence and mortality remain the highest for cancer in women, and that this trend is only going to accelerate in the next 20 years.
UICC’s Breast Cancer Programme is designed to respond to the urgent need to accelerate progress in breast cancer, which is the most diagnosed cancer in both men and women and the leading cause of death from cancer in women. This comprehensive programme strengthens and engages the global breast cancer community, with the overall goal of contributing to the reduction of premature deaths from breast cancer and improving the quality of life of patients.
Leveraging established UICC’s Capacity Building programmes and convening platforms, the Breast Cancer Programme aims to support and strengthen the capacity of key breast cancer actors to increase their impact with a particular focus on low- and middle-income countries.
Through a series of activities and opportunities, the programme aims to deliver in the following key outcomes:
The programme will build bridges between a vast array of stakeholders (cancer leaders, cancer organisations, patient groups, healthcare providers, foundations, industry, governments and multilateral agencies) at regional and global levels. Through focused discussions on the key actions needed to reduce the breast cancer burden, UICC’s Breast Cancer Programme also aims to create a common agenda on breast cancer and propose a framework for action.
The programme was officially launched on 1st October 2020 at the start of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, offering a series of opportunities to support UICC members:
Develop and implement strong breast cancer programmes
As one of the first activities of the programme, UICC supported its members to support the implementation of effective breast cancer control policies through a dedicated Project ECHO®. In this online course, participants access breast cancer experts who provide individual feedback on their projects and peer-to-peer learning. This Project ECHO focussing on the Knowledge Summaries for Breast Cancer is delivered in partnership with the NCI Center for Global Health(link is external) and the Breast Health Global Initiative(link is external). Through this course, 25 breast cancer organisations around the world gathered virtually for a period of six months, and four new projects in advocacy, education of health care workers and patient navigation were launched in LMICs.
Promote patient-centred cancer control and strengthen the patient voice
To help raise the voices of people living with breast cancer, UICC engaged 50 patient groups focussing on breast cancer in the Master course on Patient Engagement in 2020. Benefitting from live webinars, learning opportunities and best practice sharing, these patient groups participated in tailored discussions on breast cancer during the Master course, now available as a self-guided course on demand. In addition, the Patient Group Mentoring Programme has also been extended into the Eastern Mediterranean region, with ten breast cancer patient organisations joining the mentoring programme. Through regular webinars, they reveice tailored assistance and relevant connections in the region and beyond, to stimulate the creation of new patient groups in the region.
Connect with and access insights from the global breast cancer community
To engage the wider breast cancer community, and facilitate global conversations on breast cancer, a series of Virtual Dialogues on key topics around breast cancer were launched in October 2020. Regular Virtual Dialogues are proposed throughout the year.
Support the development of the health workforce in breast cancer
To strengthen the skills of individual healthcare professionals and share knowledge and expertise between organisations, breast cancer professionals are invited to apply for a UICC Technical Fellowships. Technical Fellowships allow individuals to visit another organisation for a period of up to one month to acquire specific skills or knowledge, for example in the area of public health or clinical service delivery. Technical Fellowships on breast cancer are made available throughout 2021 and 2022.
Opportunities curently available under the Breast Cancer Programme includes breast cancer Technical Fellowships and the Virtual Dialogues series on breast cancer. Additional opportunities, including online learning and grants, will unfold in 2022.
“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 contribute to greater equity in cancer care.”
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 on metastatic breast cancer through the SPARC MBC Challenge, as well as Daiichi Sankyo, the US National Cancer Institute Center for Global Health, the Breast Health Global Initiative and supports the ambitions of WHO's Global Breast Cancer Initiative.