What if we embark on a journey to digitize breast cancer?

Héctor Pourtalé

Executive Director

The global landscape of cancer is an intricate tapestry, and within it, breast cancer stands as the most prevalent cause of death among women worldwide. Despite notable advances in early-stage cancer treatment, the challenges of early detection and equitable access to effective therapies persist, particularly in regions with limited resources. It is clear that while mortality rates have seen a remarkable reduction of up to 40% in high-income countries between 1980 and 2020, as reported by PAHO/WHO, Latin America grapples with persistently high rates, with a majority of breast cancer-related fatalities striking women under 70. In the Americas region alone, over 462,000 women are diagnosed each year, resulting in approximately 100,000 tragic losses. In the face of this challenging scenario, the traditional approach to mitigating breast cancer mortality, particularly in resource-constrained settings, revolves around the implementing and sustaining early detection and educational programs, ensuring timely access to appropriate treatment, and dismantling healthcare barriers. However, today, I want to shed light on how we can surmount these hurdles by harnessing technology, innovation, and advanced treatments to digitally transform our approach to breast cancer. At the Movement Health Foundation, we believe that a harmonious partnership between the public and private sectors, empowered by digital solutions, holds the key to addressing these challenges. For instance, consider the revolutionary digital mammograms with 3D imaging, capable of identifying lesions as minuscule as three millimeters. Furthermore, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has pioneered an Artificial Intelligence-based breast cancer prediction model that can discern patterns predicting the risk of the disease up to five years in advance. A Swedish study, featured in The Lancet Oncology, and encompassing 80,000 women, revealed that breast cancer screenings augmented by AI systems for mammogram interpretation detect 20% more tumors than the traditional approach involving dual review by two radiologists. Another remarkable example comes from Brazil, through collaboration with Roche's allies like Federassantas and Techtool Health, bolstered by the support of the Minas Gerais government. Together, we have engineered a solution that revolves around digitizing the breast cancer patient's journey, aiming to diminish mortality risks and incidence. Health administrators actively seek out women in need of inclusion in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment cycle. This solution facilitates each patient's initial access to care through health centers or outreach via family health teams. Upon validating breast cancer suspicions, the platform guarantees swift access to high-complexity services at hospitals and specialized reference centers. It streamlines the scheduling of examinations, consultations, follow-up calls, and offers virtual support, among an array of other functions, providing tailored and compassionate care throughout the entire treatment journey. Beyond the digitization of the patient's journey for continuous monitoring, the digital platform propels the interconnection of hospital systems and the public health network through a concept we term "interoperability," spanning all tiers of healthcare. This approach ensures women are under vigilant supervision, commencing from prevention and facilitating expedited diagnosis and treatment. The digital transformation of breast cancer promises to make women more visible to the healthcare system, marking a significant step towards more efficient and effective care for early detection, diagnosis, and treatment of this disease. This transition promises an optimal allocation of healthcare resources, sound resource management, and improved outcomes for the patients. The digital platform conceived by Movimiento Salud and its regional partners stands as an exemplary model of how digital technologies can revolutionize healthcare service delivery, enhance patient outcomes, and foster sustainability within the healthcare framework. These ideas invigorate our vision of innovation and collaboration, forging a brighter future for healthcare. To materialize these and other innovative solutions, we seek the collaboration and support of stakeholders from diverse healthcare sectors. If you wish to be part of this transformative endeavor, kindly connect with us through our website at www.movement-health.org.