Early diagnosis key to breast cancer as Covid pandemic hits national cancer services badly

Marie Keating Foundation marked Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October

“Breast cancer isn’t just pink; it is a kaleidoscope of colours and emotions for those affected”, according to the Marie Keating Foundation, as it launched a series of compelling patient videos to mark Breast Cancer Awareness Month last month, and to open a debate around the ‘colour of cancer’.

The ‘Breast Cancer Isn’t Just Pink’ campaign, supported by Roche Products (Ireland) Ltd, filmed four women living with or after breast cancer and captured their personal perspective on ‘pink’ and the colours they would use to describe their journey.

“Cancer services have been hit badly by Covid-19, with many referring to it as the ‘forgotten C’. Symptomatic clinics and breast cancer screening need urgent resources and prioritisation to ensure that a second casualty of the pandemic is not needless deaths from cancer due to late detection,” underlined Prof Janice Walshe, Consultant Oncologist, St Vincent’s University Hospital, Dublin.

She added she was proud to support the campaign which put the patient at the centre and highlighted the uniqueness of every breast cancer journey. The awareness campaign also aimed to reassure newly diagnosed patients that improved quality of life and better outcomes were being seen, thanks to advancements in treatment and care, but early diagnosis was key.

Liz Yeates, CEO of Marie Keating Foundation and breast cancer survivor, commented: “With this campaign, we have put the patient voice and experience first, where it should be, and hope it will open up a much-needed debate on the ‘colour of cancer’.”

The Marie Keating Foundation expressed extreme concern that the knock-on effect of Covid-19 would result in delays in diagnosis and treatment, meaning poorer outcomes for patients and hoped the October campaign could bring the patient voice back into focus.

“At Roche, we are committed to improving the lives of those affected by breast cancer,” added Luz Moya, Breast Cancer Lead, Roche Products (Ireland) Ltd. “With significant advances in cancer treatment being made, we need to ensure that the delays to innovative medicines are removed so that women get the opportunity to access the best available treatment option to give them the best possible chance.”

One in 10 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime, and it is the most common cancer in women in Ireland. Each year approximately 3,351 cases are diagnosed, and 728 people die from the disease. Due to early detection and advances in treatment, breast cancer now has a five-year survival rate of 85 per cent.


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