Breast Cancer Awareness Month comes around each October to highlight the need to raise funds to battle an illness that kills more than 680,000 people every year.
In Lorient, France, a charity is undertaking a road trip through the country to spread awareness with pink 2CVs reading “#Cancer… Tous concernés!” (#AllConcerned).
Fundraising across Europe will take place throughout the month, but the fight for the cause will go on.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought unparalleled challenges for people affected by breast cancer, with fewer screenings due to fears of contracting the virus in hospitals, delays in both diagnosis and treatment, and thousands of women not being checked.
In the UK, more than one million fewer women had breast cancer screenings between March and December 2020.
“We have seen a real drop in the number of women coming forward and being screened, so obviously that creates worries about early diagnosis because that’s an essential part of tackling breast cancer in this country,” Baroness Delyth Morgan, chief executive of Breast Cancer Now, told Euronews.
“And then, for some women getting through treatment, they’ve had to have their treatment changed. Others who would normally have experienced a mastectomy may now be looking at really significant delays for their reconstruction, which would normally be part of their treatment.”
“We’re very concerned and we know that NHS staff are working absolutely flat out to do their best. But what we really need is some really serious, significant investment from the government into the workforce and the infrastructure so that we can get the breast cancer services really firing on all cylinders to tackle this challenge,” she added.
Breast cancer is still the most common cancer in the world, according to the World Health Organization, but global research has brought a lot of progress to breast cancer treatments.
“Here in the UK, we fund a significant amount of that research. Because of the pandemic, a lot of research had to go on hold, but people are working so hard to get all that up and running. So we are seeing progress, particularly in the development of new treatments, new drugs and new ways of managing radiotherapy,” Morgan said.
But survival rates from breast cancer differ from where you live in the world. Women in better-developed nations have a greater chance of early detection than those in poorer, less developed countries.
“The disparity in access to screening and treatment is really immense between the better-developed countries and the less developed countries, and even within specific countries, you can see big differences,” cancer specialist Dr Arafat Tfayli told Euronews.
“It all depends on the socioeconomic status of the country.”
In countries where the economic situation is harder such as Africa and in southern American countries, screening programmes are still struggling. Disparities between rural and urban areas are also observed.
“The farther you live from the capital, the less likely a woman is to undergo a screening test for breast cancer.”
Doctors are encouraging women between 18 and 24 to check their breasts for signs, as early diagnosis is key.
If women feel any lump in their breasts, doctors are urging them to go for an immediate check-up. “This really makes a big difference in the outcome of this disease,” Dr Tfayli added.
_Watch the full interviews with Euronews anchors Andrea Bolitho and Paul Hackett in the players above. _