Dallas — April 16, 2018 — Susan G. Komen® and the Tanzania Ministry of Health, with input from global health and civil society experts, have developed National Guidelines for Early Diagnosis of Breast Cancer and Referral for Treatment in Tanzania. The new guidelines are vital to addressing breast cancer in Tanzania – a country where about 80 percent of women diagnosed with breast cancer are diagnosed with late-stage disease (stage III or IV), meaning they will have limited treatment options. This work builds upon Komen’s ongoing efforts to reduce the burden of breast cancer in sub-Saharan Africa through the Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon partnership.
“The problem is not only that women in Tanzania are delaying or not seeking care when they notice a change in their breast,” said Anna Cabanes, Ph.D., MPH, Director of Global Programs at Susan G. Komen. “In general, primary health care professionals are not trained to recognize the early signs and symptoms of breast cancer – something the Government of Tanzania, with the support of active partners like Komen, now has the ability to address with the creation of these guidelines. They will support the early referral from the primary health care level for an accurate and timely diagnosis of breast cancer.”
This initiative comes after years of working with local partners in Tanzania to build awareness of the disease and educate women about the risk signs and symptoms of breast cancer, and at the recommendation of the 2017 Tanzania Breast Health Care Assessment which prioritized actionable items to advance breast cancer care in the country.
Working alongside the Ministry, Komen convened breast cancer stakeholders during 2017 to review recommendations from the Tanzania Breast Health Care Assessment (published in 2017), and identify ways to overcome any perceived barriers. Komen and the Ministry then developed the guidelines and related tools that will help train health care professionals to identify warning signs of breast cancer in a timely manner, and refer the women to the appropriate level of care.
The guidelines will:
- Allow the government to provide and mandate trainings for healthcare professionals working in the public system.
- Offer direction to national, regional and local governments who want to address breast cancer in their communities about where to prioritize spending.
- Advise clinicians and patients making decisions about care.
- Assist medical societies and health care organizations around the globe seeking to adopt and adapt recommendations to serve other communities.
“The guidelines provide key recommendations for a national response to promote early diagnosis and link it with proper treatment and management of the disease,” said Dr Safina Yuma, coordinator of Reproductive Cancers from the Ministry of Health Community Development, Gender, Elderly & Children in Tanzania. “This is the guiding reference document for preparation of implementation plans, training packages, and service delivery models for health facilities.”
Komen, Jhpiego (of Johns Hopkins University) and a core group of Tanzanian professionals are already building on these guidelines, developing a national training curriculum for the early diagnosis of breast cancer.
“The importance of these early diagnosis guidelines cannot be overstated,” said Cabanes. “This is not just a document – it is a step forward to meeting the needs of people with breast cancer everywhere.”
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.
This article originally appeared on the Susan G. Komen website.