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Fresh onslaught against breast cancer

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*UICC, Pfizer award $500,000 grants to address patients’ care, seek strategic partnership on disease priorities, needs
To mark the Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day, October 13, and Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) and Pfizer Oncology have announce the names of the organisations taking part in the second phase of the Seeding Progress and Resources for the Cancer Community: Metastatic Breast Cancer Challenge (SPARC MBC Challenge).

Metastatic breast cancer is the most advanced stage of breast cancer and occurs when cancer spreads beyond the breast to other parts of the body, including the bones, lungs, liver and brain.

UICC is the largest international cancer-fighting organisation, with over 1,000 member organisations across 164 countries representing the world’s major cancer societies, ministries of health, research institutes, treatment centres and patient groups.

Pfizer Oncology is a leader in oncology speeding cures and accessible breakthrough medicines to patients.

UICC and Pfizer, in a statement, said the 20 organisations from 19 countries that have been selected will receive grants amounting to $500,000 in funding provided by Pfizer to implement projects addressing the specific needs of women with metastatic breast cancer worldwide.

The 20 organisations include: University of Ibadan (UI), Oyo State; and Run for a Cure Africa Breast Cancer Foundation Ikoyi, Lagos State.

Building on the success of the first phase of the SPARC MBC Challenge, the organisers said this year’s awardees will have the opportunity to benefit from mentorship and best practice sharing from the organisations awarded previously.

The call for applications generated significant interest with 83 submissions from organisations in 42 countries, an increase over the initial phase. Awardees were selected through a competitive application process overseen by an external, multidisciplinary selection committee formed by UICC and chaired by Dr. Fatima Cardoso, director of the Breast Unit of the Champalimaud Cancer Center in Lisbon, Portugal.

According to the statement, each awardee will receive a grant to initiate projects to close the gap in information, support, awareness and policy between metastatic breast cancer and early disease, as well as help reduce the number of women diagnosed at the metastatic stage of breast cancer.

In welcoming the expansion of this successful initiative, UICC President Professor Sanchia Aranda remarked: “There is an urgent need for greater access to comprehensive breast cancer services and support for women living with metastatic breast cancer, particularly in low- and middle-income countries where the majority of breast cancer cases are diagnosed at advanced stages of the disease. We are glad to support cancer organisations across the globe in initiating and developing projects that will have a real impact in their own settings.”

The announcement to continue and further expand the initiative coincided with International Women’s Day 2017. In addition to the $500,000 awarded to these 20 organisations, Pfizer Oncology is providing a further US$30,000 to support the continuation of selected ongoing SPARC projects from the first round of grants issued in 2015. This brings Pfizer’s total funding of the initiative to more than $1.3 million.

“We are pleased to continue our partnership with UICC on this initiative that embodies our commitment to the hundreds of thousands of women worldwide who face the challenges of metastatic breast cancer every day,” said Liz Barrett, global president and general manager, Pfizer Oncology. “We believe collaborations like the SPARC MBC Challenge represent an important step toward improving care for people living with metastatic breast cancer around the world, including those in low- and middle-income countries who may not have access to the care and support they need.”

Awardees include advocacy groups, hospital networks, support groups and other cancer organisations. Among them is ICANSERVE Foundation in Pasig City, Philippines, whose project will serve to train patient navigators in cities that do not have any as well as strengthen their role in cities that do, and the KomfoAnokye Teaching Hospital in Kumasi, Ghana, looking at building a community-based structured patient network, navigation and breast health awareness programmes.

Additional organisations to receive grants include:
• Public Organization “Avesto” (NGO), Dushanbe, Tajikistan
• University of Ibadan, Nigeria
• FundaciónCáncer-Fuca, Buenos Aires, Argentina
• Europa Donna Cyprus, Nicosia, Cyprus
• Canadian Breast Cancer Network, Ottawa, Canada
• McGrath Foundation, St. Leonards, Australia
• Caribbean Cancer Research Initiative, San Fernando, Trinidad and Tobago
• Cancer Patients Aid Association, Mumbai, India
• SocietateaRomana de Cancer (Romanian Cancer Society), ClujNapoca, Romania
• Hellenic Association of Women with Breast Cancer “Alma Zois”, Athens, Greece
• Clinique medical Camassistance, Yaounde, Cameroon
• Run for a Cure Africa Breast Cancer Foundation, Ikoyi, Nigeria
• Europa Donna – The European Breast Cancer Coalition, Milan, Italy
• Public Foundation Ergene, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
• The Aga Khan University (Nairobi), Nairobi, Kenya
• Fundação D. Anna de Sommer Champalimaud e Dr. Carlos Montez Champalimaud, Lisbon, Portugal
• Rwanda Biomedical Center, Kigali, Rwanda
• Alianza Mexicana por el Cáncer, AC, Mexico City, Mexico

These awardees will have the opportunity to benefit from mentorship and best-practice sharing from the 2015 awardees, including organisations like Instituto Oncoguia, a non-profit that used their SPARC MBC Challenge grant to launch Network Plus Life (Rede + Vida), bringing together metastatic breast cancer patients from different regions of Brazil for training on how to provide support and information to other metastatic breast cancer patients, as well as the Butaro Cancer Center of Excellence (BCCOE) in Rwanda, which created its first support group for rural women fighting metastatic disease.



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