Improving breast cancer management in Colombia

The Challenge

Most breast cancer patients in Colombia are diagnosed at an advanced stage, once the cancer has spread and become incurable. Part of the issue is that women are not aware of breast cancer symptoms and so do not recognise or act upon significant changes to their breasts. For those women who do make an appointment, limited resources within Colombia’s health service can reduce the chance of a timely and accurate diagnosis.

What we’re doing

Roche is working with some of Colombia’s largest healthcare organisations on a broad range of awareness and patient support programmes. For example, in 2012, Roche Colombia introduced a countrywide initiative called “Consultorios para la mujer” (“Women Consulting Rooms”), which trains healthcare professionals to recognise the signs of early breast cancer and on using diagnostic tests to provide accurate diagnoses.

In 2013, we began promoting breast cancer awareness and prevention in Colombian jails, which house approximately 6,500 women. The project started in the Buen Pastor jail in Bogotá in collaboration with the National Prison and Penitentiary Institute (INPEC).

We have also established the “Time to Live” programme to provide broad support for cancer patients, their families and caregivers. The programme gives advice on how to manage the physical and psychological impact of breast cancer by providing information on nutrition and healthy living habits and offering support in the form of art therapy, nurse consultations and workshops.

Our impact

By 2014, 91 Women Consulting Rooms had been established in 23 cities throughout Colombia. As a result, nearly 600 patients have been diagnosed and treated for breast cancer. Due to the success of this initiative, we are expanding our rooms to include other diseases affecting women, such as ovarian cancer, osteoporosis and arthritis.

Similarly, we have expanded our patient support programmes to cover other disease areas such as arthritis, cystic fibrosis, transplantation and patients with anaemia.