Breast cancer diagnosis, survival rates low in rural India

Women in developed countries survive approximately 10 years longer after a breast cancer diagnosis than women in poor-to-middle-income countries, suggests a study conducted in rural India and published in the Global Science and Technology Forum's Journal of BioSciences.

Lead author Rajesh Balkrishnan, PhD, from the University of Michigan, and colleagues included 300 women with breast cancer from the southern rural district of Udupi, India, in the study. The women received one of three chemotherapy drug regimens, depending on the stage of cancer.

Only about 27% of patients were diagnosed in the early stages of cancer, and they survived an average of 11 years; the majority of patients were diagnosed in later or advanced stages, and they survived from about one to 2.5 years after diagnosis and treatment, according to Balkrishnan's group (J Biosci, December 2012, Vol. 2:1, pp. 1-6).

Breast cancer diagnoses tend to occur at later stages because screening isn't available in rural areas, and fear, poverty, and ignorance about breast cancer also delay treatment and diagnosis, according to the authors.

"I think if the tumor is diagnosed early and treated aggressively, a patient can expect an additional decade of survival," Balkrishnan said in a statement released by the University of Michigan. "But access and adherence to optimal treatment remains very difficult for women in poorer countries."

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