Breast cancer is one of the most common diseases in the U.S. and has gotten a lot of attention from media and nonprofit organizations who want to help women catch the disease early and ultimately find a cure. But, in poorer countries, the fight against breast cancer is not as advanced, even though 70 percent of global cancer deaths are now occurring in low- and middle-income countries like the Eastern European nation of Bosnia.
Breast cancer is the No. 1 killer of women in Bosnia and often goes undetected until it's too late. The country has a dire shortage of the medical equipment and doctors necessary to diagnose breast cancer early, and Bosnian women are suffering the consequences. The Susan G. Komen Foundation, one of the most successful breast cancer awareness organizations in the U.S., has expanded its reach and is hosting rallies and events in Bosnia and other countries as well.
The Komen foundation and others hope that with their help, Bosnia can set up a national screening program that encourages women to get tested early and often. Some doctors are doing presentations at high schools in Bosnia to educate kids early about the disease and possibly encourage their mothers, sisters and grandmothers to embrace early prevention.
"If they are not working together, nothing will be improved. They need to work together. That is the only way. Governmental institutions, together with the expertise of medical professionals, and the experience of the patients can improve things." - Nela Hasic, regional director, Women's Health Empowerment Program
"There are patients who come directly here, but the surgeon has to turn them back to do the mammography. And so women are wandering a lot before they get into this main hospital. And when they reach it here, it is often too late. The system has failed, to tell you the truth." - Mirsada Sakic, nurse
"The disease isn't talked about much here. It's a taboo subject. If I knew more about it, when I suspected something, I wouldn't have waited and I wouldn't get into a situation where it was too late." - Azra Cajo, breast cancer survivor
1. What is cancer?
2. What does the term "taboo" mean?
3. What do you know about how to prevent breast cancer?
1. Why do you think so many of the women who die from breast cancer live in poorer countries? What factors help women's survival rates who live in wealthier countries?
2. Do you know family members or friends who were affected by breast cancer? Do you think they got the care they needed?
3. How does being aware of a disease or a threat help prevent it? How do the events sponsored by organizations like Susan G. Komen help raise awareness?