World Cancer Day: Re-imagining breast cancer care
Every year February 4 is World Cancer Day, a day to reflect on the burden of the disease and what can be done to help reduce it. According to the GLOBOCAN 2008 estimates, about 12.7 million cancer cases and 7.6 million cancer deaths are estimated to have occurred in 2008. World Cancer Day is the singular initiative which calls for the world to unite together in the fight against the global cancer epidemic.
Making an impact on cancer and the people it affects takes more than a global effort; it requires a pledge for rapid innovation. GE is committing $1 billion in dedicated cancer-related research and development in addition to helping clinicians deliver care to 10 million patients by 2020. We reach these goals together by enabling more accurate diagnoses and better treatment through faster, more effective technologies.
Specifically in the Middle East, the statistics are alarming: Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in women in the region, a fact corroborated by reports by Saudi Cancer Registry at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital & Research Center, as well as the UAE Ministry of Health.
This is more or less in line with the global trend, with the World Health Organization reporting that breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women worldwide accounting for nearly 16% of all cancers in women.
For years, one of the difficulties in addressing breast cancer was the lack of timely and reliable statistics. More recently, with concerted efforts to enhance awareness about breast cancer, more women are stepping forward to undergo mammography, which promotes diagnosis.
However, what has been challenging policy makers and healthcare experts in the region is the high incidence of late diagnosis of the disease condition, with reports indicating that some 80% of the cases are identified in later stages, when treatment becomes difficult.1
GE’s Healthymagination initiatives main objective is to deliver better care to more people around the world at a lower cost. It is also to partner with healthcare leaders, striving to leverage the global policy change necessary to implement a successful shift to a sustainable healthcare system.
This approach plays a key role given the rising burden of healthcare bills in the region. According to recent reports, the healthcare services market in the GCC is projected to grow at an average 11.4% to US$43.9 billion by 2015 from an estimated US$25.6 billion in 2010.2
The key to this is early diagnosis, where advanced technologies are deployed to ensure prompt and accurate diagnosis.
Two-thirds of all women around the world tend to forgo regular breast cancer screenings due to a lack of access to the appropriate facilities, up-to-date imaging technologies or trained medical professionals. The trend is being addressed in the Middle East through the focus of governments and non-governmental organizations to promote breast cancer awareness.
To further raise awareness of breast cancer, and to honor people’s unique and personal stories of the disease, GE Healthcare today manages the Breast Cancer Mosaic website. Visitors to the interactive website are encouraged not only to browse the stories — many of them truly touching — but to share their own message with the world.
GE Healthcare has launched a new online patient resource, IsMyCancerDifferent, the first of its kind website to focus on educating cancer patients about molecular-level testing. As part of the healthymagination commitment GE has also created an online visualization tool mapping cancer conversations on Twitter.
Across the Middle East, GE Healthcare has been championing the cause of breast cancer awareness through seminars, workshops, and most recently, the Ministry of Health of Saudi Arabia and GE signed a Memorandum of Understanding to roll out the first-of-its-kind concerted campaign to fight breast cancer in the Kingdom, through timely diagnosis, advanced treatment, greater public awareness and promoting cutting edge research and innovation.