PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (sentinel.ht) -Around the world, the month of October is designated as the month to rally against cancer, particularly breast cancer, and associated diseases.
On Sunday, the Support Group against Cancer (GSCC) organized a march, against breast cancer, bringing Haiti into the global campaign against the disease. Marchers were dressed in pink as the walked through the streets of Petion-Ville and handed information pamphlets to on lookers.
The Pinktober trend was originally begun by Hard Rock International in 1989 and is recognized in sport leagues such as the NFL and NBA, where players where pink gloves or jerseys during the month. With the GSCC, pink in October for cancer awareness and the fight for a cure, is also observed through the GSCC.
Breast Cancer in Haiti
Breast cancer remains the most common cancer and most common cause of cancer-related death among women worldwide. While incidence rates have historically been higher in the developed world, recent evidence suggests an alarming increase in both incidence and mortality in low-income developing countries.
Coupled with stable-to-declining age-standardized mortality rates in developed countries, an increasing number of preventable breast cancer deaths will continue to shift to low-income developing countries worldwide. In Haiti, delayed patient presentation is an issue. Delayed patient presentation refers to a prolonged interval between discovery of initial sign/symptom and presentation to a qualified medical provider.
Currently, Haiti is estimated to exhibit a breast cancer incidence of 4.4 per 100,000 females per year and mortality of 2.0 per 100,000 females per year for an approximate relative mortality of 45%. In comparison, the United States has a higher incidence of 121.2 per 100,000 females per year and a higher mortality of 23.5 per 100,000 females per year, but a much lower approximate relative mortality of 19%.
The previous findings were made via the Program in Global Surgery and Social Change (PGSSC) at Harvard Medical School, in conjunction with Partners In Health and Zanmi Lasante (PIH/ZL), which launched the Haiti Breast Cancer Initiative (HBCI): the first prospective hospital-based Haitian breast cancer registry.
In a report published to the Journal of Oncology entitled, “The Haiti Breast Cancer Initiative: Initial Findings and Analysis of Barriers-to-Care Delaying Patient Presentation” by the research group, it was stated that Haiti’s current epidemiological estimates are modeled from data of similar and surrounding nations. Much of the findings of the report, awareness, sociocultural conditions and other factors make it difficult to really determine the breadth of impact of the disease in Haiti.