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Home  >  Medical Research Archives  >  Issue 149  > Disrupting the Status Quo in Late Diagnosis of Breast Cancers in the Resource Limited Settings
Published in the Medical Research Archives
Nov 2023 Issue

Disrupting the Status Quo in Late Diagnosis of Breast Cancers in the Resource Limited Settings

Published on Nov 29, 2023




Breast cancer tops the list of female cancers both in incidence and mortality. Eastern and south Asian countries have seen a very significant 86%-89% rise in age standardized incidence. Currently 5-year survival of breast cancer in low- and middle-income countries is only 40-60%. There is an urgent need to reduce delays in diagnosis of breast cancer and establish effective referral pathways to improve the observed low survival. Existing literature describes reasons for such delays in breast cancer management extensively, yet does not propose solutions to disrupt this status quo.

Pre-diagnostic delays and diagnostic delays are interdependent due to overlapping socioeconomic and cultural barriers to seeking health, and accessing and accepting care. Non-availability of diagnostic tests or trained human resource and out of pocket expenditure complicate these delays. Present article highlights probable solutions to mitigate these problems with an emphasis on resource limited settings.

Early diagnosis of breast cancer essentially involves reducing the delays in triple assessment of symptomatic patients in the context of limited resources. Clinical breast examination, use of ultrasonography and fine needle aspiration biopsy which are possible to organize at secondary level can mitigate some of the delays. Newer technologies like portable ultrasound devices, use of artificial intelligence, cartridge based real time receptor assay can further reduce the diagnostic delay. Many pilot studies and interventions using newer point of care tests are in progress to establish their role against gold standard investigations in clinical practice.

Delay in diagnosis cannot be mitigated by providing standalone solutions. Robust pathways with provision of green corridor for referrals, task shifting of patient navigation to various grassroot level health care workers, developing contextual practice guidelines, recognising challenges and weaknesses of cancer control system, and realizing importance of equitable distribution of health resources can strengthen the cancer control strategies and mitigate the delays in breast cancer diagnosis.

Author info

Partha Basu, Anita Gadgil, Radhika Srinivasan, Surita Kantharia

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