• Susan G. Komen® and Pfizer Train Providers and Provide a Roadmap to Improve Breast Cancer Care in Brazil



     Susan G. Komen, with generous funding from Pfizer, has developed and published the Sergipe 2018: Breast Healthcare Assessment - An Assessment of Breast Cancer Early Detection, Diagnosis and Treatment in Sergipe, Brazil in partnership with Breast Health Global Initiative, of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. The organization has also created numerous resources – including a patient manual, published today – to help patients, health care providers, and the Municipal Department of Health address the growing burden of breast cancer in the state of Sergipe, Brazil.


    “Our work in Sergipe has several components that are intended to produce system change, that is, long-term improvements that will hopefully save lives,” said Anna Cabanes, Ph.D., MPH, Director, Global Programs at Komen. “Whether it is through this assessment or on-the-ground training with providers, there are a number of ways we can apply our organization’s knowledge and experience to help everyone facing breast cancer in Brazil.”


    The assessment, which began in 2017, found systematic health care obstacles in Brazil that prevent women from getting the care they need. For example, quality of mammography and ultrasound readings is low because radiologists need training, and machines are not well calibrated and maintained. To ensure high quality care is available to women and men who need it, the authors provided the following recommendations:


    1. Improve breast cancer triage at lower levels of the healthcare system. Train providers to perform clinical breast exam (CBE), followed by systematic referrals for those who need follow-up care.
    2. Review processes underlying delays in referrals (both operational and system-specific), and provide opportunities for process improvement.
    3. Train primary care providers on the signs and symptoms of breast cancer, and how to diagnose and/or refer women for follow-up care.
    4. Invest in new screening technology.


    In addition, Komen worked in partnership with providers and organizations in Brazil – Hospital Perola Bynton, Hospital de Barretos, and Oncoguia – to train more than 100 local health care professionals, including radiologists, physicists, medical oncologists and social workers. The Brazilian Ministry of Health has also made investments in health care infrastructure, which show early promising results. The organizations have also published a patient manual that outlines patients’ rights and empowers individuals to make decisions about their own care.


    “There have been vast improvements in a short amount of time, including new and improved mammography machines, and a monitoring system that has reduced the time between abnormal screening and diagnosis, which means women are getting the treatment they need faster,” said Cabanes. “Moving forward, we’re excited to apply this framework to more communities.”


    Komen began work outside of the U.S. in 1999, and to date has provided more than $70 million to more than 200 organizations to support scientific research, community health programs and educational efforts in more than 60 countries.