Breast cancer patients miss treatments amid crisis in Venezuela

Global Business

Venezuela’s economic and political crisis has thrown many into desperation. Shortages of much needed products from food to medicine, are hurting some of the most vulnerable.

CGTN’s Juan Carlos Lamas reports.

Maira Cardenas was diagnosed with breast cancer four years ago, at the age of 56, and every day since then, she’s been fighting both the disease and the health system in Venezuela.

“Getting the medicine is an odyssey, not to mention getting the right treatment,” Maira Cardenas, breast cancer survivor said.
Maira managed to get both radiation and chemotherapy, although she wasn’t able to schedule the treatments at the intervals her doctor ordered. She’s now in remission but afraid she’ll suffer a relapse without the medication her doctors said she needs to take for the next 10 years.

According to the Venezuelan non-profit Senosalud, 15 women are diagnosed with breast cancer in the country each day, more than 5500 cases a year. The organization said many go undetected because equipment is in short supply.

“We have an 80 percent lack of mammograms across the country. This is a serious situation, because breast cancer is the leading disease killing Venezuelan women. X-ray machines are needed to give a diagnosis before surgery but they do not work — and most hospitals in Venezuela don’t have the necessary equipment,” Dr. Ludmila Calvo, president of Senosalud said.

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro has blamed the shortage of medicine and medical supplies on political unrest and an economic war, which he said the U.S. is waging against Venezuela.

For the women and men at risk and for those already diagnosed with breast cancer in Venezuela, the question is not who is to blame, it’s how to get the treatment they need to survive.