Psychosocial Support in the Ukraine (Bca)

Psychosocial support for breast cancer survivors: Supporting women in Ukraine

Breast cancer is the leading cause of death from cancer among women in Ukraine. In 1998, approximately 14,600 new cases were identified and nearly 8,000 women died. Because of the severe economic conditions currently gripping post-Soviet Ukraine, medical providers face great challenges in providing basic health care, to say nothing of early detection services and optimal clinical care for women with breast cancer.

In addition to the physical toll that the disease takes, the psychological and emotional needs of breast cancer patients are great but rarely are recognized formally.

In 1997, the US Agency for International Development supported a 3-year Breast Cancer Assistance Project to improve breast cancer services for screening, diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation in Ukraine. Managed by the Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH), a goal of the program was to enhance the cost-effectiveness of services within the constraints of existing facilities and resources.

A pilot program comparing mammography with clinical breast examination showed that screening mammography is neither cost effective nor sustainable with Ukraine's current resources. For now, Ukraine must rely on clinical breast examinations to promote early detection. Through the Project, health professionals learned about clinical advances in breast cancer treatment, received training in mammography, needle biopsy techniques, and clinical breast examination. Ukrainians trained in breast examination have subsequently trained more than 1,500 health care workers.

In addition to addressing these issues in diagnosis and treatment, the Project also focused on psychosocial support for breast cancer patients.

[11/21/2001; Western Journal of Medicine]

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