How can the clinical researches change such scenario?
Nora Thormann, from Porto Alegre (RS), faced a lymphoma that developed around her breast implant. Cristina Santedicola, from Salvador (BA), faced a Non-Hodgkin lymphoma during four years. What approaches these women, in addition to the fight against cancer, is the fact that they only had succeeded their treatments because they had a chance to participate in clinical researches based in the United States.
While in that country there are over 80 research centers for every 1 million inhabitants, in Brazil there are only two. The probability of death after the diagnosis is 2 times higher in Latin America than in the United States and Europe.
The main barriers for the development of clinical researches in Latin America, according to experts, include the lack of structure in national and regional organizations dedicated to cancer researches, a limited number of qualified and specialized professionals (for instance, statisticians, study monitors and additional operational staff), lack of public recognition regarding the importance of clinical researches, legal and regulatory obstacles in some countries and, on a critical basis, the lack of funding to support the investigations.
The Cure Project Institute (Instituto Projeto CURA), a non-for-profit organization, which results from an initiative of the Latin American Cooperative Oncology Group – LACOG, has been working in several fronts, in order to foment and collect funds for conduction of clinical researches.
“We are a platform of interaction and engagement; we use music, arts, design, sports, fashion and events to involve people, in addition to assigning volunteer ambassadors in the fight against cancer. Through our initiatives we can receive donations from individuals and companies, on a direct manner, including website-based donations or participation in charity events, or indirectly”, explains the psychologist Fernanda Schwyter, president of CURE.
Before the tragical scenario rising in Brazil, the private financing of clinical researches is of extreme importance. According to Gilberto Amorim, oncologist (Oncologia D’OR), godfather of the Neosamba Research, financed by the CURE Project, “one of the benefits of increasing the number of clinical researches in Brazil is that there will be increased opportunities for patients, especially those served by the national public health network, to access innovative drugs, new treatments and also the existing reference treatments, thus reducing the gaps between Brazil and the large international centers.
According to data recently published by the Brazilian National Cancer Institute (INCA), during the 2020/2022 period, every year Brazil will record new 625 thousand cancer cases. Prostate and breast are leading the statistics, with over 66 thousand cases each, per year. “There was a 10% increase for breast cancer when compared to 2018”, explains Amorim.
The number of cases of uterine cancer, mostly caused by HPV, will correspond to 17 thousand per year, however the oncologist warns “that is a preventable disease with immunization available at the national public health network for boys and girls”.
Obesity is a risk factor in 11 out of 19 neoplasia cases. Sedentarism, smoking, excessive consumption of alcohol and improper nutrition habits – i.e. poor in vegetables and fruits and rich in processed and industrialized products – increase the risk for 10 types of cancer, depending on the organ affected, according to the Brazilian Ministry of Health.
According to Fernanda, founder of CURE, it is essential to execute a continuous work of education and activities to raise awareness among the citizens regarding the risks of cancer. Additionally, the psychologist reinforces that clinical researches and production of local knowledge are the main weapons to change the existing status in Latin America, where the majority of patients receive treatments of lower effectiveness, when compared to other regions of the world. Only 1 to 3% of the studies launched in the world are also launched in Brazil, she states.