Note from BW of Brazil: In our continuing coverage of health and health care inequalities in Brazil, the following report highlights the differences as specifically measured by access to breast exams according to the category of race or color. As has been shown consistently in other health care reports, non-white women also lag behind white women in this important area of treatment and preventive care.
Outubro Rosa (Pink October) for all; unequal access between black and white women to breast exams.
By Emanuelle Goes
Outubro Rosa (Pink October) is the month of mobilization for women’s access to breast exams, which include the breast clinical exam and mammographic, and while the implementation of these tests is precarious for all women in the country, black women from the north and northeast of the country are those who suffer most from this impact.
According to the IBGE (Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística or Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics), the Pesquisa Nacional de Amostra por Domicilio – Suplemento saúde (National Survey by Household Sample – Supplement Health) (2008) showed this situation of inequality. We can see in the figures below how the process of racial inequalities in access to health service remains in all regions of the country. The figures reveal the women who never underwent clinical breast examination and mammography. And preta (black) and parda (brown) women from the north and northeast have the highest percentage of those who have never done both the clinician and mammography.
The fact of, to date, not disposing oneself to the means of primary prevention for cancer implies that measures of early diagnosis or secondary prevention assume great importance in disease control, with impact in reducing mortality rates. These measures are applicable in cases of tumors whose development processes are properly known and for which the availability of relatively simple tests, of low cost and little or not at all invasive, among other features.
The high mortality rate of women with breast cancer constitutes a public health problem, requiring of the State effective measures to reduce such deaths. Accordingly, in 2004 the Ministry of Health set, among other strategies, the use of clinical breast examination and mammography as a means of control of breast cancer.
The adoption of these two measures was agreed upon by the Instituto Nacional de Câncer (National Cancer Institute) and the Área Técnica da Saúde da Mulher (Technical Area of Women’s Health), the Sociedade Brasileira de Mastologia (Brazilian Society of Mastology), in addition to the participation of staff from different areas of the Ministry – managers, researchers, and representatives of related Scientific Societies and entities of the defense of women’s rights (Brazil, 2004).
Just to remember, the clinical breast exam should be done compulsorily every year in women between 40-49 years of age, however, to conduct a physical examination, health professionals, specifically doctors and nurses should do this as comprehensive care to women. Women already belong to population groups at high risk of developing breast cancer should make clinical examination and annual mammography starting at age 35. For tracking, the recommendation is to undergo a mammography between the ages of 50-69 years in intervals of every two years.
BRASIL, Ministério da Saúde. Controle do câncer de mama: documento de consenso. Brasília, 2004.
_____. Ministério da Saúde. Política Nacional de Atenção Integral à Saúde da Mulher: Princípios e diretrizes. Brasília, 2004.
Source: População Negra e Saúde