MENA – AstraZeneca Area Vice President of Middle East and North Africa Pelin Incesu has called for concerted and sustained effort to reverse the growing breast cancer burden across the region.
“The projected increase in breast cancer rates in the Middle East and Africa in the coming decades is not inevitable,” Incesu cautioned.
According to the AstraZeneca Vice President for the MENA region, there are currently 280,000 new cases across the region every year, but by 2040 that is expected to increase by 140 per cent.
She further said that the current trajectory can be revered by setting new standards for patient outcomes, from diagnosis through to treatment and beyond, as well as building capacity and infrastructure.
Furthermore, Incesu observed that various risk factors are lifestyle choices that can sometimes be addressed by behaviour change such as smoking and secondhand smoke inhalation, high blood-sugar, and physical inactivity.
“Better public understanding of the links between these risks and breast cancer will also help reduce overall rates,” she noted.
In addition, she pointed out that prevention is another area that deserves more public attention, particularly when it comes to understanding key risk factors for example, new technologies now allow for predictive testing for high-risk breast cancer genes.
The AstraZeneca Area Vice President highlighted that efforts to improve breast cancer prevention and detection, as well as treatment, must be underpinned by fully trained and equipped health workers who are able to support women along their patient journey.
“Breast cancer is a life-altering, and often life-limiting disease that has ramifications for all of society. It is the leading cause of death for women across the Middle East and Africa region,” underscored Incesu.
Incesu further stressed that as with most cancers, early detection of breast cancer can mean the difference between life and death, adding that awareness campaigns directed specifically at women in high-risk demographics is key.
“National-level campaigns like the Jordan Breast Cancer Programme, led by the King Hussein Cancer Foundation, can empower women to take responsibility for their health and help them understand their options,” she stated.
She further said that the private sector has a crucial role to play in working with governments and healthcare providers to make technologically-advanced medical innovations accessible and affordable.
‘In Egypt, AstraZeneca has partnered with Baheya Foundation to promote BRCA testing for women in order to improve early diagnosis and patient outcomes and has already reached 700,000 women with awareness initiatives,” Incesu outlined.
She maintained that routine screening cannot prevent cancer from occurring, but it is does help to pick up early signs of the disease while noting that countries where this is part of standard health care packages demonstrate lower mortality rates .
“We will only begin to make progress against breast cancer if we are also addressing barriers to prevention, awareness, screening and care, through continued innovation and collaboration with governments, patients and industry,” Incesu concluded.