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Thursday, January 27, 2011

NEWS & POLITICS - Breast Cancer Screenings In Mexico Rise Sharply After Awareness Campaign

An aggressive public awareness campaign has helped fuel a dramatic jump in the number of mammograms performed in Baja California, Mexico, with the annual number of screenings shooting from about 500 in previous years to 15,000 in 2010, San Diego Red reports.

The campaign features billboards with graphic imagery that aims to encourage women to seek mammograms. Baja California officials hope the campaign will eventually help reduce breast cancer mortality in the Mexican state, where 71% of women with breast cancer are diagnosed in late stages of the disease, according to Lidia Sandoval of the State Center for Oncology.

The billboards, launched in September 2010, depict images such as a woman pretending to amputate her breast and a photo of a skull imposed over a woman's torso. The billboard's messages were reinforced through fliers distributed at public universities.

Breast cancer is the leading cause of death among women in Mexico and the second-leading cause in Baja California. Few of Mexico's radiologists can accurately read mammograms, according to the National Center of Gender Equity and Reproductive Health in Mexico City. Nationwide, 93% of breast cancer diagnoses occur in the late stages of the disease, the center said.

The death rate among Mexican women with breast cancer has increased in recent years, from 15 deaths per 100,000 women ages 25 and older in 2005 to 16.7 deaths per 100,000 women in current estimates. Sandoval said the new campaign's effect on mortality likely will not be seen for several years (Millan, San Diego Red, 1/10).