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Keywords:

  • breast cancer;
  • low-income countries;
  • early detection;
  • screening;
  • diagnosis;
  • treatment;
  • healthcare systems;
  • guideline;
  • implementation;
  • resource allocation;
  • process metrics

Abstract

Breast cancer outcomes in low- and middle-income countries (LMCs) correlate with the degree to which 1) cancers are detected at early stages, 2) newly detected cancers can be diagnosed correctly, and 3) appropriately selected multimodality treatment can be provided properly in a timely fashion. The Breast Health Global Initiative (BHGI) invited international experts to review and revise previously developed BHGI resource-stratified guideline tables for early detection, diagnosis, treatment, and healthcare systems. Focus groups addressed specific issues in breast pathology, radiation therapy, and management of locally advanced disease. Process metrics were developed based on the priorities established in the guideline stratification. The groups indicated that cancer prevention through health behavior modification could influence breast cancer incidence in LMCs. Diagnosing breast cancer at earlier stages will reduce breast cancer mortality. Programs to promote breast self-awareness and clinical breast examination and resource-adapted mammographic screening are important early detection steps. Breast imaging, initially with ultrasound and, at higher resource levels with diagnostic mammography, improves preoperative diagnostic assessment and permits image-guided needle sampling. Multimodality therapy includes surgery, radiation, and systemic therapies. Government intervention is needed to address drug-delivery problems relating to high cost and poor access. Guideline dissemination and implementation research plays a crucial role in improving care. Adaptation of technology is needed in LMCs, especially for breast imaging, pathology, radiation therapy, and systemic treatment. Curricula for education and training in LMCs should be developed, applied, and studied in LMC-based learning laboratories to aid information transfer of evidence-based BHGI guidelines. Cancer 2008;113(8 suppl):2221–43. Published 2008 by the American Cancer Society.