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J Glob Oncol. 2018 Sep;4:1-8. doi: 10.1200/JGO.17.00103.

Promoting Clinical Breast Evaluations in a Lower Middle-Income Country Setting: An Approach Toward Achieving a Sustainable Breast Health Program.

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Roziya Buribekova, Irina Shukurbekova, Surayo Ilnazarova, Nekruz Jamshevov, and Guldarbogh Sadonshoeva, Aga Khan Health Services, Dushanbe, Tajikistan; Saleem Sayani and Aliya Aminmuhammad, Aga Khan University; Farin Amersi, Sheemain Asaria, Mansoor Saleh, and Zohray Talib, Aga Khan Health Board, Karachi, Pakistan; Zohray Talib, George Washington University School of Medicine, Washington, DC; and Mansoor Saleh, University of Alabama at Birmingham Comprehensive Cancer Center, Birmingham, AL.



To promote a systems-based approach for the early detection and downstaging of breast cancer at presentation in the remote mountainous region of Gorno Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast (GBAO), Tajikistan, by introducing breast cancer awareness into the community and training health care professionals in clinical breast evaluation (CBE).


Through a public-private partnership between the Ministry of Health, the Aga Khan Health Services, Tajikistan, and the Aga Khan Health Board, we organized breast cancer screening in the community and trained family medicine doctors (FMDs) and family medicine nurses (FMNs) in CBE. We identified and trained CBE master trainers, who, in turn, systematically trained FMNs to conduct CBEs in each of the remote regional clinics.


Between 2014 and 2017, 47 FMDs (85% of all FMDs in GBAO), 166 FMNs (55% of all FMNs in GBAO), and six master trainers were trained. Of 3,556 women who were screened, abnormal CBEs were noted in 696 of them (20%). Of the last 1,101 CBEs that were performed by trainee FMNs, with secondary CBEs by master trainers, the rate of abnormal CBEs plateaued at 9%. A total of 18 women were diagnosed with breast cancer-2.6% of abnormal CBEs and 0.5% of all screened women.


A dual-pronged approach of community awareness and CBE training of health care professionals, supported by CBE master trainers, offers a sustainable approach for the early detection of breast pathology. We observed anecdotal evidence of clinical early-stage detection over time with improved CBE proficiency and community acceptance. Sustaining this program will require advocacy by health care providers and a responsive public policy to support the early detection and treatment of breast cancer across the region.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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