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Breast cancer awareness month: Brussels city hall turns pink

09:44 20/10/2023

Brussels City Hall was illuminated in pink on Thursday evening to mark World Breast Cancer Awareness Day.

The aim was to “send a strong message to all residents and show support for those who suffer or have suffered from breast cancer and those around them,” according to the Pink Ribbon non-profit organisation, which organised the initiative.

The pink ribbon campaign from Think Pink is held from 15 September to 31 October.

“Wearing the pink ribbon lets others know that you are aware of the importance of getting screened, and it also expresses your support for all those affected by breast cancer,” Think Pink said.

One in eight women in Belgium today is affected by breast cancer. Every year during this month, a number of buildings in Belgium illuminate their facades in pink to raise awareness and promote screening and prevention.

“We are extremely pleased that such beautiful illuminations are taking place again this year, and to bring additional visibility to raise awareness of this disease,” said Hilde Debackere, Pink Ribbon's managing director.

Other awareness-raising, information and prevention initiatives have also been put in place. Earlier this week, Belgium’s minister of social affairs Frank, Vandenbroucke, along with European health commissioner Stella Kyriakidis, regional health ministers Hilde Crevits (Flanders), Christie Morreale (Wallonia) and Antonios Antoniadis (German-speaking community) reiterated the importance of primary prevention, screening and treatment in accredited clinics.

“The drawing up of a treatment plan for breast cancer and any surgery will only be reimbursed if they take place within a recognised coordinating clinic,” Vandenbroucke said.

“The care programme will be adapted whereby the satellites will be transformed into affiliated campuses, which will only be able to offer chemotherapy and other broad care.”

According to Pink Ribbon, research on 50,000 women with breast cancer in Belgium shows that the chances of survival for women who were not treated at a recognised breast clinic are a lot lower compared to those who went to a recognised one.

On average, these women have a 30% higher risk of dying within five years.

“Many breast cancer patients are not aware of this,” Pink Ribbon said. “In principle, they can go to any hospital. By granting reimbursement only when treated at an accredited breast clinic, things are finally moving forward. It’s therefore important to keep preventing and fighting the most common cancer among women in our country.”

Women in Brussels between the ages of 50 and 69 can obtain a free bi-annual screening mammogram through the Mammotest programme organised by the government. Eligible women receive an invitation letter to make an appointment at a recognised mammography centre.

Written by Helen Lyons