Introduction of Breast Cancer Screening in Chernihiv Oblast in the Ukraine: Report of a PATH Breast Cancer Assistance Program Experience

Authors

  • Vladimir Zotov MD,

    1. Chernihiv Oblast Oncology Center and Lviv Regional Cancer Center, Lviv, Ukraine
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  • Roman Shyyan MD

    Corresponding author
    1. Chernihiv Oblast Oncology Center and Lviv Regional Cancer Center, Lviv, Ukraine
      Address correspondence and reprint requests tp: Roman Shyyan, MD, Vygovskogo st. 45/27, 79054 Lviv, Ukraine, or email: roma@txnet.com.
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Address correspondence and reprint requests tp: Roman Shyyan, MD, Vygovskogo st. 45/27, 79054 Lviv, Ukraine, or email: roma@txnet.com.

Abstract

Abstract: The incidence of breast cancer and mortality from this disease remain high in countries with limited resources such as the Ukraine. Because of a lack of mammography equipment and formal screening programs, as well as educational and other factors, breast cancer is usually diagnosed in late stages in such countries. We report the experience of the PATH Breast Cancer Assistance Program in introducing a pilot breast cancer screening program in one territory of the Ukraine, the Chernihiv oblast. The program entailed educating the public, training health care providers in clinical breast examination (CBE) and mammography, opening a dedicated mammography facility, designating a center for breast cancer care, building diagnostic capacity, and fostering the formation of support groups. From 1998 to 2002, 18,000 women underwent screening with CBE and 8778 women underwent screening with mammography. When implementing the program we encountered various cultural, economic, and logistic difficulties, such as reservations about showing bare breasts in educational materials, the lack of an established system for collecting screening data, and barriers to follow-up in women with positive screening results. Screening mammography proved to be more effective in detecting small and nonpalpable lesions; 8.7% of cancers detected in the mammography group were in situ, compared with 0% in the CBE group. However, introduction of CBE as a screening modality required fewer financial resources compared with mammography and was recommended as a transitional method before the introduction of mammography screening programs in countries with limited resources. The introduction of screening was associated with favorable changes in indicators of breast cancer care, including an increase in the percentage of breast-preserving operations and new legislation to provide funding for breast cancer services. We conclude that this successful pilot program of breast cancer screening in a limited-resource setting can serve as an example for other similar programs. 

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