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Stephen Stefani: think (and act) pink in October

Article by Stephen Stefani, Oncologist at the Mãe de Deus Cancer Hospital, Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil, published on 10/10/2016 by the ZH Opinião online newspaper.

October has already its color. The pink color has been occupying spaces and reminds everyone about the importance of breast cancer. The rising statistics corroborate the clear perception that all of us are somehow touched by cancer – affecting relatives, friends or ourselves. According to estimates, this year almost 60 thousand women will receive a cancer diagnosis.

They will possibly face surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, immunotherapy or some combined treatment. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that the incidence could be reduced by 30{46cf1a6c7461ff493d31bdca70d45967bd1ce7048f85e123712b94daa5b61391} if risk factors are avoided, such as obesity, excessive use of alcohol, in addition to smoking.

Engagement in campaigns designed to raise awareness has increased, however it is much richer in social medias and additional channels when compared to practical actions. Many women with age over 40 have never done their first mammography due to a mistake – they think that the absence of symptoms or family records provide the required protection.

Access to treatment in the public health network is delayed and incomplete. Prices set for new drugs make them likely unaffordable for the existing budget. Therefore, the reality might not be so pink. However, we are progressing. Toxic treatments are being better tolerated and diseases that until recently were non-curable became curable. The clinical researches are closer to all and talking about cancer is no longer so much scaring, however we need practical actions. Initiatives to raise funds for researches, such as the Cure Project (www.projetocura.org), which allow deductions in the tax revenue, offer the hope of seeing a less devastating future. Individuals are surviving and fighting to enable others to access such advancements, in a stream that demonstrates that the human being is much better than what we often think.