Breast Cancer Initiative at the Sihanouk Hospital of Hope in Cambodia

Over the past 8 years AstraZeneca, AmeriCares and the Sihanouk Hospital Center of Hope (SHCH) have partnered on an initiative to strengthen existing treatment services at SHCH while expanding in scale to reach additional patients.

The staff at SHCH is composed of internationally trained and highly qualified physicians including a surgeon specializing in cancer surgery as well as a pathologist trained in immunohistochemistry.

Breast cancer related mortality remains very high in the developing world due to AstraZeneca Breast Cancer Initiativelimited awareness of self-screening practices, low access to diagnostic technology and the cost of oncology medicines.

As part of this initiative, AstraZeneca provides oncology medication free to both peri and post-menopausal breast cancer patients in the SHCH treatment cohort. Also, AstraZeneca supports efforts to educate Cambodian women about the importance of early detection and prompt care-seeking.

In addition, through this initiative, training is conducted for peer educators on newly printed materials focused on breast cancer awareness and early signs and symptoms which extends their outreach to the public. Further, the initiative provides for a breast cancer program coordinator role which has a primary focus on enhancing the Peer Educator program while making efforts to improve data collection and cross departmental coordination.

The greatest impacts from this initiative are in the areas of new patients being screened for breast cancer (grew from 257 in 2011 to 808 by 2015), the number of people being provided printed materials on early detection (grew from 1800 in 2011 to 11570 in 2015) and women being educated by their peers (grew from 2347 in 2011 to 7050 in 2015).

Other learnings to date that have come from this work show the importance of early detection and treatment and this is where the investment in public education is so important, as this education enables earlier detection and prompt treatment of breast cancer cases. Another learning is around the need for a diversified treatment approach as peri and post-menopausal women may have different treatment needs. Finally, surgery capacity constraints illustrate that the demand for the hospital’s cancer related surgical services outweigh its implementing resources and capacity. The ability to provide additional staffing, operating rooms and inpatient beds significantly impacts the number of individuals able to be helped.