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ESMO Supports WHO Global Breast Cancer Initiative

08 Mar 2021

On International Women’s Day, the World Health Organization (WHO) launched its Global Breast Cancer Initiative, a collaborative effort with the aim to reduce global breast cancer mortality by 2.5% per year, thereby averting 2.5 million breast cancer deaths globally between 2020 and 2040.

According to recent statistics provided by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), breast cancer is now the most commonly diagnosed cancer worldwide. The WHO has also published a fact sheet on breast cancer.

The WHO initiative focuses on health promotion, timely breast cancer diagnostics, and comprehensive treatment and supportive and palliative care. Together, WHO, IARC and IAEA published a summary of the 3-pillar program in The Lancet Oncology called The Global Breast Cancer Initiative: a strategic collaboration to strengthen health care for non-communicable diseases.

ESMO welcomed and supported this WHO initiative to ‘hear the call of women with breast cancer’. ESMO participated in the launch event with a video where Dr Rosa Giuliani, ESMO Director of Public Policy, said that “Patients with cancer and their needs are at the heart of what ESMO does. We are committed to advancing research and helping doctors help patients, by providing skills, knowledge, and resources that they require to be, and remain at, the forefront of cancer treatment”.

Dr Giuliani highlighted the fact that ESMO advocates for timely and equal accessibility and availability to cancer medicines and to the reduction of inequalities in access to quality cancer care. She raised awareness of dedicated sessions on breast cancer at ESMO meetings, such as the annual ESMO Congress and the annual ESMO Asia Congress, as well as the ESMO Summits worldwide, where doctors across the globe come together, share their experiences and learn from experts about the latest advances in breast cancer. She also drew attention to the ESMO Clinical Practice Guidelines in breast cancer and the accompanying ESMO Patient Guide for Breast Cancer, available in several languages – ESMO resources designed to ensure that cancer patients receive the best possible treatment and care.

Prof Giuseppe Curigliano, Scientific Co-Chair of the annual ESMO Breast Cancer Congress informed that the Congress delivers a comprehensive overview of practice-changing new data in the field of breast cancer from research to patient care.

WHO noted that “Through the Initiative, WHO, working in unison with other UN agencies and partner organizations, will provide guidance to governments on how to strengthen systems for diagnosing and treating breast cancer, which in turn is expected to lead to improved capacities to manage other types of cancer.”

A concise report from the WHO launch event can be accessed here.

This Initiative in breast cancer complements other WHO cancer initiatives such as the WHO Global Initiative for Childhood Cancer, which began in 2018, and the WHO Global Strategy to Accelerate the Elimination of Cervical Cancer, which began in 2020 and led to a World Health Assembly Resolution entitled ‘Global strategy to accelerate the elimination of cervical cancer as a public health problem and its associated goals and targets for the period 2020–2030’.

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