Metastatic Breast Cancer Is a Global Issue

In Breast Cancer, Recent Posts by Barbara Jacoby

As Breast Cancer Awareness Month occurs here in the United States with what seems to be a renewed focus on early detection and treatment only each year, I wanted to shift the focus to those who are dealing with metastatic or advanced breast cancer. I am aware that this community may feel that they are being largely ignored as everyone centers on early detection and getting tested before the cancer advances as many hope that early detection is the answer to eliminating breast cancer. And while most people know that this couldn’t be farther from the truth, I have found that there is another factor in play here.

A person who wants to become involved in doing something to help during BCA Month will put their efforts into something where they can see the results in programs and services supporting those dealing with breast cancer or in events that honor those who are survivors. But, there is no visible program or ways that people can see to focus their efforts directly on the MBC community. Contributors have no way to impact these particular patients in ways that are different from the help that is already available to them from the same groups and organizations that assist non-MBC patients.

Therefore, my desire was to explore how metastatic breast cancer (MBC) is being addressed not only here in the United States but also in other parts of the world. I wanted to know how women dealing with advanced breast cancer are being treated in their own cultures, if they are feeling ignored and isolated and in what areas they believe that they need the most help. One particular study that I found has provided some very striking information.

Russia, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon have interesting differences from the US:

  • Anzhelika Seregina from Russia shares that people still thinks cancer is a physically contagious disease.
  • Dr. Adel Elsayes from Saudi Arabia talks about how many patients face transportation issues to actually getting their treatment.
  • Loryne Atoui from Lebanon discusses that cancer is still “taboo” in the Middle East and advanced breast cancer is even barely talked about.

An interactive map can be found here and by clicking on a specific country, you can access each of the videos plus the statistics resulting from questions about the three common issues shared by the majority of those dealing with advanced breast cancer worldwide. The patients have identified these issues as:

  • they often feel like “no one understands what I am going through”
  • they “feel isolated from the non-advanced breast cancer community”
  • the “information that is available on breast cancer does not address my needs”

However, as each person’s breast cancer is uniquely different one from another, it becomes most important to address the next main issue and that is the focus on a patient’s access to their medical professionals and having enough time to discuss their particular issues. So, how can patients best utilize the time that they have with their doctors and find ways to maximize the appointment outcomes?

This same site referred to above contains “Global Tip Sheets” that have been written in several different languages that will allow for patients to plan ahead for their visits by knowing what to do before and during a doctor visit, providing some information regarding what to do after the appointment and referencing a website for additional information and resources. As the tip sheet indicates, this is how you can “Make Your Dialogue Count” to get the best treatment for any individual and bottom line, this is the most important outcome that any patient can have.