Women in the Amazon River region had to endure long journeys to access breast cancer screening services. Now, with our help, two 🇧🇷 ships are equipped w/ mammography units and are ready to sail the river, improving healthcare in the region. https://t.co/sohaG60rYy #CancerCare4All pic.twitter.com/vkDv9ufCh0
— IAEA – International Atomic Energy Agency (@iaeaorg) February 10, 2022
Importance of screening
In Brazil, breast cancer represents almost 30 per cent of all types of cancer with approximately 40 per cent of patients only diagnosed in the advanced stages of the disease.
Screening is used to detect cancers at an early stage when they can be treated most effectively.
The first stage in the screening involves an X ray (mammogram). With the two new units, each ship is able to perform up to a thousand such screenings per year.
In a statement, IAEA Director General, Rafael Mariano Grossi, stressed the importance of screening to step up the global fight against cancer.
“Thanks to this unique partnership, timely and effective breast cancer services can now be delivered also to these remote areas in Brazil,” he said.
In 2022, the two ships will carry out eight journeys of up to 45 days each.
They will travel from the Amazon River delta to the borders of Colombia, Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela, whose communities could also benefit from such services.
Due to their design, navy ships can navigate along the narrow and shallow waters to bring much-needed healthcare directly to women living by the river’s banks.
Women in the Amazon River region could previously only access mammography services by travelling to the nearest health facility – sometimes gruelling trips lasting several days.
As an example, women in the city of Tabatinga, near the border with Peru and Colombia, had to travel 1,600 km, over seven days, to receive such screening services at the healthcare centre in Manaus, the capital of the Brazilian state of Amazonas.