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Fighting Breast Cancer

  • October 21, 2009

AmeriCares Honors Breast Cancer Awareness Month

A breast cancer diagnosis in the developing world is an entirely different experience from what many are familiar with in the United States. No races are run, or pink ribbons worn. There are at least one million new cases of breast cancer diagnosed every year worldwide. And right now, the most common cause of cancer-related death for women everywhere is breast cancer.

“Most breast cancer deaths occur in the developing world because it is typically detected in the later stages, greatly limiting treatment options” reports Dr. Frank Bia, M.D., AmeriCares medical director.

While breast cancer is prevalent in the United States and other countries with advanced medical treatments, patients in the developing world are more likely to die of the disease. In Paraguay for example, half of the women diagnosed with breast cancer die within one year, according to the National Cancer Coalition (NCC). The five-year breast cancer survival rate for women in the United States is as high as 98% if it is treated before it spreads throughout the body, according to the American Cancer Society.

That’s why AmeriCares has been working with the NCC and dedicated doctors and hospitals in Paraguay and throughout Latin America to expand breast cancer treatment.

In the past year, AmeriCares delivered $1.2 million worth of the lifesaving breast cancer drug tamoxifen which helped women in the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Paraguay. Paraguay’s National Institute of Cancer received one of the deliveries; it relies on donations such as those from AmeriCares because government funding is limited.

“The facility’s annual medication budget of $70,000 is largely spent on anesthesia for surgeries, leaving virtually no money left for other medicines,” said Tom Roane of the NCC. “What AmeriCares and the National Cancer Coalition are bringing in is keeping them going.”

The donation is estimated to have provided over 900 months of breast cancer treatment – thus helping more than 150 women with breast cancer get the medicines they need. Much more needs to be done, but AmeriCares work in Latin America serves as a model to help support treatment throughout the developing world.

Since 2005, AmeriCares has delivered more than $5.5 million worth of the breast cancer drugs tamoxifen and anastrozole. Initiatives are being developed to expand early detection and treatment here at home and around the world.

Help AmeriCares deliver lifesaving medical aid >>