Only 3 out of 10 women recognize mammography as the most effective early detection method; tan only 1% know that breast cancer can be asymptomatic; 7 out of 10 women did not have a routine medical visit during the pandemic. These are just some data from the 2021 Regional Public Opinion Survey on Breast Cancer, carried out by Avon together with the Avon Foundation; and they presented in a virtual meeting that brought together renowned health specialists and communicators from Mexico, Colombia and Argentina.
The survey process was carried out during the months of July and August 2021 in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay with women over 16 years of age, through 1,000 interviews per country totaling a sample of 7,000 women . In addition, a qualitative and exploratory stage was added that was developed from 10 semi-structured online interviews, by country, with women between 40 and 55 years of age.
The objective of the Regional Survey is to generate information both at the regional level and for each participating country that allows a comparative approach, as well as to become a source of consultation for decision-making by various public and private agencies and organizations that work on this issue. In the three panels that made up the presentation event, they delved into data that revealed the need to improve women’s knowledge about their body and breast care, as well as access to quality studies.
What data did the study show?
The study not only talks about women’s perceptions and attitudes in relation to breast cancer, but also opens the way to conversations about the barriers that often separate them from the proven mechanisms to achieve early detection and save lives.
Some of the most prominent data collected are:
Among the main data revealed by the survey, it triggers an alert: only 3 out of 10 women in the region recognize mammography as the most effective early detection method, while more than half of women consider self-examination as the most successful mechanism. In contrast, only 1% affirm that breast cancer may not show symptoms, when the reality is that this disease is usually asymptomatic in its initial stages and does not present external signs identifiable by sight or touch. Mammography is globally recognized by the medical community as the most effective method for early detection, since it allows to identify abnormalities in the breasts even before the existence of external signs.
7 out of 10 women at risk age (over 40 years) state that they have had a mammogram at least once in their life. However, in relation to frequency, only 46% of them declare doing it annually, even though 7 out of 10 respondents state that they know that an annual frequency is recommended.
7 out of 10 women did not undergo preventive medical consultation or breast check-ups during the Covid-19 pandemic. The fear of contracting the coronavirus was the most relevant reason expressed by 51% of those surveyed.
“The purpose of this survey involves listening to the voices, fears, knowledge or lack of information that women in Latin American countries have about breast cancer, a disease that detected early has more than 90% chances of healing ”, expressed Ana Inés Álvarez, Executive Director of Fundación Avon. And he added: “Knowing what they think, what limitations they express, what attitudes they have assumed in relation to this issue, even in recent years of the pandemic, is also an invitation to action. Reading these results helps to detect the challenges and chart the path of the necessary change. “
For its part, Drag Karina Pesce (MN 102.181) from the Argentine Mastology Society stated that “Breast self-examination is so deeply rooted in women as the most important method, largely due to the communication messages that were transmitted to them for years, such as“ caring for your breasts are in your hands ”. This strong communication led women to value self-examination over mammography as an early detection method.”. And he added, “work should be done to position mammography as the main method of early detection of breast cancer.”
In relation to the high percentage of women over 40 who say they never had a mammogram, Prof. Dr. Antonio Lorusso (MN 21,887), Medical Director at LALCEC He expressed that “it is a very interesting piece of information that shows us that we still have a lot to do, both in education and in access to studies. Education should be directed both to the community in general as well as to medical professionals who are the ones who should indicate the performance of mammograms as the main screening study for breast cancer. “
The study was carried out by the El Quinto Element agency and had the support of organizations from various participating countries such as the National Cancer Institute in Argentina, the Argentine League to Fight Cancer, the Arturo López Pérez Foundation (Chile), the Clarita Berenbau Foundation (Uruguay), the Argentine Mastology Society, the ROCHE Laboratory, the Health Observatory of the Group of Foundations and Companies (GDFE), Mamotest, the Feminist Economy and the Legislative Directory Foundation and the medical specialists Dra. Flavia Sarquis, Dra. Karina Pesce and Dra. Mariana Araujo (Uruguay).