Understanding the Burden of Breast Cancer in China

On Monday, April 14, Susan G. Komen kicked off four days of meetings and events in Beijing, China to explore issues around breast cancer research and advocacy. Made possible through Komen’s partnership with GE healthymagination, leading scientists and advocates from around the world joined together to discuss the need for accurate disease data to inform the development of policy and standards for breast cancer screening, diagnosis, treatment, and survivorship care, in addition to sessions dedicated to breast health education.

“In China, 1 in 40 women can expect to be diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime, with more than 2.5 million new cases to be diagnosed by 2021,” said Komen President and CEO Dr. Judy Salerno. “Even more concerning is half of all new breast cancer cases in China are found in women younger than age 50. Compare this to the United States, where the average age at diagnosis is 61. We’ve learned from colleagues here in China that many of these women learn they have late stage breast cancer, when the disease is most difficult to treat. That makes our need to address breast cancer here all the more urgent.”

Dr. Judy Salerno, Komen Mission team representatives, and international and Chinese medical experts including members of Komen’s Scientific Advisory Board and Komen Scholars.

The first day commenced with the convening of a scientific roundtable featuring Dr. Judy Salerno, Komen Mission team representatives, and international and Chinese medical experts including members of Komen’s Scientific Advisory Board and Komen Scholars. Robust dialogue on topics ranging from global breast cancer trends and incidence rates to policies and priorities in China were discussed using evidence-based recommendations to mobilize the breast cancer movement in China.

Dr. Salerno & Yu Hongqiu, Vice President of the All China Women’s Federation (ACWF)

The next day, Komen co-hosted a breast cancer advocacy training event with the China Women’s Development Foundation (CWDF), an organization dedicated to women’s issues.  Through Komen’s support, CWDF worked with in-country experts to develop a training manual on breast cancer for provincial leaders of the All China Women’s Federation (ACWF), the largest women’s organization in China, and other community based organizations (CBOs) in China. Together, the ACWF and CWDF have the ability to advocate for a comprehensive, impactful, and sustainable response to promote the early detection of breast cancer through awareness, education, and community engagement.

Day three featured a screening and treatment literacy training for nearly 50 community leaders from provinces throughout China.  Best practices and lessons learned from community mobilization were shared by Komen as well as the unique perspective from the HIV/AIDS platform featuring AIDS Care China.  Additionally, GE Healthcare China shared how corporations are engaging in social responsibility programs, like GE’s PINK ACTION campaign, to raise awareness of breast cancer. Breast cancer survivors and community leaders also shared their thoughts on next steps to address barriers to breast cancer screening, diagnosis, treatment, and survivorship care in their own communities.

Dr. Salerno & Alan Gilbert, Director of Government and NGO Strategy for GE healthymagination

With the momentum gained from the first three days, Komen and GE were featured at an exclusive event at the American Chamber of Commerce – China where they discussed how innovative and collaborative partnerships with the private sector, like GE’s partnership with Komen, can move the needle on breast cancer. Alan Gilbert, Director of Government and NGO Strategy for GE healthymagination said, “With a challenge as big as breast cancer you need to bring everyone to the table. Public-private partnerships, driven by innovation, and focused on driving improved outcomes are vital to moving the needle on global health issues.”

Although breast cancer is a global disease, beliefs and approaches to its diagnosis and treatment vary greatly, in part due to differences in cultural norms, health care systems, and economic conditions. As confirmed by the outcomes of the past four days in Beijing, no single approach to breast cancer will prove effective around the world, but it’s critical that women everywhere are knowledgeable about this disease and have access to appropriate quality care. There is an opportunity to make breast health a priority in China by implementing innovative programs aimed at increasing awareness, education, screening, and access to quality care. Komen has always believed where a woman lives should not determine whether she lives. As our work continues in more than 30 countries across the globe, we look forward to the day that women everywhere can live in a world without breast cancer.


About the author

Susan G. Komen has written 342 articles for Susan G. Komen® | Blog

Nancy G. Brinker promised her dying sister, Susan G. Komen, she would do everything in her power to end breast cancer forever. In 1982, that promise became Susan G. Komen and launched the global breast cancer movement. Today, Komen is the world’s largest grassroots network of breast cancer survivors and activists fighting to save lives, empower people, ensure quality care for all and energize science to find the cures. Thanks to events like the Komen Race for the Cure®, we have invested more than $1.9 billion to fulfill our promise, becoming the largest source of nonprofit funds dedicated to the fight against breast cancer in the world.