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Safeguarding Polish women from breast cancer

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Jul 20, 2020

By the Philips Foundation team

Annually, 18,500 women in Poland develop breast cancer while the waiting time for an ultrasound at public healthcare facilities can take up a few months. Thanks to respected partners, the Philips Foundation was able to secure 1,000 ultrasounds for women in Poland. In addition, workshops will be organized for women living in rural areas on the importance of self-examination, alongside nationwide training for gynecologists to expand access to breast examinations for pregnant and breastfeeding women. 

According to Poland’s national cancer registry, more than 18,500 women in Poland get to hear they have breast cancer every year. Nearly 6,600 women die due to the complications of breast cancer. A third could have been saved if the disease had been diagnosed earlier. 


Unsurprisingly, breast cancer is the most common malignancy in all age groups above the age of 20 in Poland, with 22.5% responsible for all malignancies in women. Twice as much as lung cancer, which ranks second. Although breast cancer is the most common, statistics show that the incidence and death from this disease continue to rise.


The problem often lies in the limited  access to adequate healthcare support, and as reported by patients, the waiting time for a breast ultrasound in public health facilities of up to several months. Due to the current COVID-19 outbreak, the waiting time may be even longer.

Supporting measures aimed at enhancing the quality of life of cancer patients and improving access to diagnostic testing is part of our mission. 

Reinier Schlatmann, General Manager of Central & Eastern Europe at Philips

In Poland, there is also insufficient attention to the proven benefits of regular breast self-examination. 42 percent of people in Poland are aware that a breast self-exam should be done at least once a month. Overall, Poland scores lower than its European counterparts, which unfortunately translates to the significantly lower 5-year survival rate of patients diagnosed with breast cancer.


(Self-)Examination crucial in the prevention of breast cancer


Being aware of the importance of breast cancer screening, the Philips Foundation and Philips Poland secured ultrasound examinations for 1,000 women in Poland with limited access to healthcare as part of the “BreastFit: Woman’s Breast. Man’s Matter” campaign. By doing so, Philips Foundation supports the campaign launched by the OnkoCafe Foundation and join forces with the campaign’s main partner, Novartis Poland.


“Supporting measures aimed at enhancing the quality of life of cancer patients and improving access to diagnostic testing is part of our mission. Thus, our duty we want to fulfill together with our partners,” Reinier Schlatmann, General Manager of Central & Eastern Europe at Philips, said. “Philips presence in Poland dates back nearly 100 years, which makes us feel responsible for the local community. We want to be involved in supporting underserved communities, especially in a time when Polish breast cancer statistics have worsened due to the coronavirus outbreak.”


Next to offering ultrasound examinations, a campaign raises the awareness about breast cancer prevention and understanding the course of the disease among women and their partners. In addition, with support of the Philips Foundation a series of workshops will be held for women living in smaller towns and rural areas where attendees will be educated on breast self-examination and how it significantly helps in the early detection of cancer. The knowledge gained at the workshop will allow participants to check their health and share what they know about self-examination with other women, encouraging them to do this at home and visit their doctor on a more regular basis. 


Breast screening for pregnant women


The number of pregnant women with breast cancer is also increasing every year. Since breast cancer is more challenging to diagnose in pregnant women because symptoms such as breast swelling can be very similar to that of breast cancer, Philips experts will further train selected gynecologists to expand access to breast examinations up to 350,000 a year in a nationwide effort.


The campaign is a continuation of an existing project with Rak’n’Roll Foundation, where nearly 200 obstetricians and gynecologists have been trained to strengthen nationwide experience in performing ultrasound for pregnant and breastfeeding women.

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