The Cancer Divide: Uganda Fights Stigma and Poverty to Take On Breast Cancer

“The Cancer Divide: Uganda Fights Stigma and Poverty to Take On Breast Cancer.” By Denise Grady, The New York Times on Oct. 15, 2013.

Two years ago, the United Nations began a global campaign against noncommunicable diseases — cancer, diabetes, heart and lung disease — noting that they hit the poor especially hard. Worldwide, at least 7.6 million people a year die from cancer, and 70 percent of those deaths occur in poor and moderate-income countries, according to the World Health Organization. Breast cancer takes a particularly harsh toll. It is the world’s most common cancer in women and their leading cause of cancer death, with 1.6 million cases a year and more than 450,000 deaths.

Survival rates vary considerably from country to country and even within countries. In the United States, about 20 percent of women who have breast cancer die from it, compared with 40 to 60 percent in poorer countries. The differences depend heavily on the status of women, their awareness of symptoms and the availability of timely care. … To transfer screening-mammography programs to Africa “feels wrong,” Dr. Lehman said. “It feels like we’re infecting them with our problems, rather than really sharing with them our triumphs.”

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