The 19th of October takes place the celebration of the World Breast Cancer Day, a very special date that promotes sensibilization against this disease and raise awareness among the population of the importance of research and early diagnosis of the disease.
It is the most common tumor among western women; in fact, in Spain more than 33,000 new breast cancers are diagnosed each year.
The Spanish Association Against Cancer is one of the organizations with whom we have collaborated for many years. The organization not only carries out important education and awareness-raising work, but also leads various projects to support and accompany people with cancer and their families and, finally, promotes research by financing research projects that help to find a better diagnosis and treatment of the disease.
Today we speak with them, to learn about their main challenges and priorities today and, also, to learn about the campaign they have prepared this year.
- What is the main challenge for the AECC today?
Eliminate the inequities caused by cancer in Spain. Unfortunately, cancer is the same for everyone, but we are not all the same when it comes to cancer. Not all people have the same chance of preventing cancer, coping with the disease, or accessing research results. Correcting these inequalities is the main challenge of the Spanish Association Against Cancer.
- To date, you have helped finance more than 400 research projects that help prevent, cure or chronify cancer. What are the main lines of research that are currently open? What areas do they focus on?
The Cancer Research Grants of the Spanish Association Against Cancer seek to support researchers, giving them stability throughout their entire careers, from their beginnings as university students to their consolidation as group leaders, but also to promote those projects that most may benefit the patient. In this sense, among the more than 400 projects that we currently support, we find projects that study the different types of cancer and all its phases, from prevention and diagnosis to metastasis.
We promote multidisciplinary research and enable different professionals, both nationally and internationally, to network, sharing experience, knowledge and results. We promote clinical research, so that doctors who are in contact with patients also contribute their experience. And we drive innovation to accelerate results from the lab to the patient. In short, all these projects add different knowledge, strategies and professionals with the same goal: to save lives.
- Focusing on breast cancer, it is estimated that one in eight women will be diagnosed with this type of cancer in her lifetime. Prevention and early diagnosis are key to preventing the disease. In that sense, what advice would you give?
The main one is that women between 45/50 and 69 years old participate in breast cancer screening programs by having a mammogram. Breast cancer is one of the three tumors that can be detected early thanks to a test, such as mammography, capable of detecting cancer before it is palpable. In addition to this recommendation in general, adopting healthy lifestyle habits (not smoking, not drinking alcohol, exercising regularly, eating a healthy and balanced diet or going to gynecological examinations) are also measures that women can adopt to reduce the risk to develop breast cancer.
- One of the most valued areas of activity of the AECC is the accompaniment and advice to people and relatives who have recently been diagnosed with cancer. What is the service that works best for women recently diagnosed with breast cancer?
Between more than 23,000 women with breast cancer cared for by the Association in 2020, 45% have requested specialized psychological care. The rest has been taken care of by our social care services, medical guidance, etc.
- Your awareness campaigns on dates marked on the calendar, such as World Day Against Breast Cancer, help to increase knowledge about the disease and raise awareness about the importance of prevention. What is the topic for World Breast Cancer Day this year?
15% of women with breast cancer are extremely vulnerable, almost 34% of those who are ill have lost their jobs or have been forced to leave because of the disease; 70% have lost their wages or almost all of their income. It is estimated that a diagnosis of breast cancer generates on average, between direct expenses and loss of income, € 41,834 during the disease. Thus, a woman with breast cancer has direct expenses of € 9,242 and a loss of income of € 32,578 during the disease.
- What is the main goal of this year’s social fundraising campaign?
On the occasion of the “Take out chest” campaign, the collaboration with the Association is aimed at psychological and social care programs for patients and their families; and to promote breast cancer research. The solidarity of all will make it possible to provide more services to the women most vulnerable to breast cancer to meet their needs and ensure that they face cancer with the best conditions.