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December 23, 2020

The Devastating Legacy of Breast Cancer Death in Sub-Saharan Africa—Maternal Orphans and a Cycle of Disadvantage

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Breast Surgical Oncology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston
  • 2Department of Breast Medical Oncology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston
  • 3Department of Health Services Research, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston
JAMA Oncol. 2021;7(2):197-198. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2020.6491

Do not look the other way; do not hesitate. Recognize that the world is hungry for action, not words.1

Nelson Mandela

It is estimated that in 2018 alone, more than 625 000 women worldwide died from breast cancer.2 While the loss of each individual life from breast cancer is tragic, the collective effect, which reverberates through families and communities, has not consistently been measured or captured. In this issue of JAMA Oncology, Galukande and colleagues3 report the immense consequence of breast cancer death in sub-Saharan Africa by estimating the number of children who become maternal orphans within the African Breast Cancer–Disparities in Outcomes (ABC-DO) cohort. The ABC-DO is a prospective hospital-based study evaluating overall survival, quality of life, and delays along the journey from diagnosis to treatment among patients with breast cancer in sub-Saharan Africa. The study recruited women with breast cancer who were treated in tertiary care hospitals in Namibia, Uganda, Zambia, and Nigeria from September 2014 through December 2017. Within this context, patients were followed up, and outcome data were collected through telephone calls every 3 months with the patient or her next of kin.

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