Pink October: Increasing survival rates and improving the treatment of breast cancer

by Otávio Clark | Oct 31, 2016

Breast cancer has one of the highest incidence rates in the Brazilian population – among all cancer cases in the country, 22% are breast cancer – which highlights the importance of the Pink October campaigns that help in the awareness and prevention of the disease, which also has high incidence rates in the United States (17%), United Kingdom (16%), France (14%) and Spain (12%).

Having information on breast cancer is important to understanding and tackling the disease. Furthermore, early diagnosis and advances in treatment help demystify the disease. “Survival rates (time of life of patients after the diagnosis) related to breast cancer can vary and depend on the stage of diagnosis,” says oncologist Luciano Paladini, medical analyst at Evidências - Kantar Health. “For example, while patients with invasive tumors less than two centimeters and other favorable characteristics have a chance of 10-year survival of 85-95%, in cases with more unfavorable characteristics such rates may fall to 30-50%. In Brazil, there are several reasons that range from the difficulties of access to diagnosis and treatment, putting the five-year survival rate is about 60% compared with a rate of 84% observed in the United States and of 70% in the UK.”

Several drugs have been approved for use in breast cancer over the past 15 years. “Many treatments have high disease control rates in a few months,” Paladini says. “For example, the addition of a drug called pertuzumab increased the median survival rate from 40 to 56 months in a specific group of women with advanced breast cancer. In treating initial resected breast cancer, the addition of trastuzumab – already incorporated by the Brazilian public healthcare system (SUS) – increases the chances of remission by about 10%.”

According to the National Cancer Institute José Alencar Gomes da Silva (INCA), major advances in breast cancer therapy have occurred in the last several years, particularly less invasive surgeries and individualized treatment. “Due to the high incidence of breast cancer, it is the most studied tumor and more drugs being tested,” Paladini says.


Information on the incidence of breast cancer is from May 2016, according to Kantar Health database. 

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