Where do you see the future of global breast cancer research heading?
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women around the world. The majority of cases and deaths are now occurring in low- and middle-income countries, which was not what people used to believe, partly because of misinformation. I believe that we're making significant progress by looking at the problem from a more holistic systems-based approach.
There are two areas that one needs to focus on, the first being early diagnosis and the second being effective therapy. It is important to find a cancer within a reasonable period of time. We now have publications coming out about what is the nature of delays in early diagnosis, which could have to do with the patient participation and what they understand, but also the healthcare system. It's unfortunately very common that patients will present with a problem and it is not recognized.
The other area that needs to be focused on is effective therapy. The question with therapy is how can we apply the treatments in ways that are reasonable, recognizing that some of the things we do are very expensive. Many of our targeted therapies cost an unfathomable amount in limited resource environments but other treatments are quite affordable. For example, if a surgeon can do trauma surgery, they could be trained to do a modified radical mastectomy. Between early diagnosis and treatment, we're going to see more system building that is going to make progress.
In our group, we're focused on an area called phased implementation, which is about breaking it down into pieces so that progress can be made.
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