Rome, 30 September 2021
Over 90% of women with early-stage breast cancer make a full recovery. This is thanks to preventive tests – which suffered a series of set-backs during the lockdown caused by the pandemic – hence why the checks for early diagnosis must start back up as soon as possible. This is the objective of the eleventh edition of Frecciarosa, a project promoted by IncontraDonna together with the FS Italiane Group, under the patronage of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers and the Ministry of Health along with the support of AIOM (the Italian Association of Medical Oncology) and Farmindustria.
The initiative is presented today at a press conference held at the Ministry of Health. After in-person activities were paused, consultations aboard the train return: the presence of specialists on high-speed and regional trains and in the FRECCIALounges in the stations shall be provided, offering travellers free advice on cancer prevention. In addition, online consultations continue on the frecciarosa.it platform throughout the month of October.
“In Italy in 2020, it is estimated that there were almost 55,000 new diagnoses of breast cancer, as the most frequent neoplasm in the entire population,” says Adriana Bonifacino, President of IncontraDonna Onlus. The purpose of ‘Frecciarosa’ is to spread the culture of prevention in a less dramatic and more unusual context, as trains and stations become places for meetings between doctors and citizens in a symbolic ‘journey to health’. The pandemic distanced the population from a positive lifestyle in terms of healthy nutrition and frequent physical activity, resulting in a critical need to adhere to screening exams within acceptable timeframes. These come as the indirect consequences of the virus. Compared to 2019, in 2020 over 3,300 diagnoses of breast cancer have been missed along with 2,700 of cervical cancer, 1,300 of bowel cancer and more than 7,400 of advanced colorectal adenomas, precisely due to the halting of and delays in restarting the secondary prevention programmes. It is our job to quickly reverse these figures or else they will increase exponentially. In the coming years, the management of oncological diseases will be more complex, given that the delays risk leading to more advanced diagnoses. Hence, whilst we must urge the institutions – as we are also doing as an Association – to return to regular screenings as soon as possible, those of us in local medicine and in the elimination of waiting lists in hospitals,” continues Prof. Bonifacino, “we must be personally responsible for ensuring checks resume.”
Last year, due to the pandemic, a special edition of the ‘Frecciarosa’ was devised, being entirely online and which achieved excellent results. From 1 to 31 October 2020, the total number of platform users was 30,300, as evidence that the culture of prevention has really affected a large percentage of the population. A good 7,860 people downloaded the online version of the Health Vademecum.
The 2021 Health Vademecum, drafted by Adriana Bonifacino together with numerous specialists and with the support and supervision of the Ministry of Health, contains useful and certified information for protecting people’s well-being throughout their life. The Vademecum can be consulted online on the www.frecciarosa.it platform where, for the entire month of October, teleconsultations with medical professionals, webinars and events with experts will be available free of charge.
“Now in its eleventh edition, the ‘Frecciarosa’ project represents an initiative of great value as it brings the culture of prevention closer to people,” explains the Minister of Health, Roberto Speranza, in the introduction of the Vademecum. The national network and prevention are the main levers for facing and overcoming the challenges of the future. The pandemic has taught us that it is necessary to bring prevention, health education and social-healthcare policies back to the top of the list of priorities and investments, to reform the National Health Service with vision and courage. The conditions are now in place to transform this profound crisis into an extraordinary opportunity for change. This is the most important challenge of our present times.”
“Trenitalia and the entire FS Italiane Group confirm their support for the ‘Frecciarosa’ project which, in ten years, has enabled thousands of individuals on board trains or in the areas dedicated to travellers to avail of medical visits and information on proper lifestyles, improving the culture of prevention,” says Luigi Corradi, CEO and General Director of Trenitalia. “[EF1] Social sustainability is one of the values that guides us, being fundamental for all our activities. Our attention to people’s needs is strong, commencing from the phases of constructing a train conceived and designed to accommodate everyone through to the needs of passengers before, during and after the journey. In this edition, ‘Frecciarosa’ will return to travelling aboard our trains, covering the entire national territory.”
The faces of the 2021 edition are singer Orietta Berti and dance teacher, Carolyn Smith, an icon of the battle against cancer who, through her example, has given courage and hope to thousands of cancer patients. Flaminia Fegarotti will provide further testimony as a patient. “Dancing and, more generally, physical activity practiced on a regular basis represent an important primary prevention tool,” explains Giordano Beretta, National Chair of AIOM (the Italian Association of Medical Oncology).
The strongest scientific evidence relates to cancer of the bladder, breast, endometrium, oesophagus, stomach, colorectal and kidney. These studies show an association between increased physical activity and a reduced risk of cancer which, for some cancers, reaches 20%. Moderate-intensity exercise is also useful after a cancer diagnosis and has become part of the means of managing the disease. For example, the link between physical activity, fewer relapses and longer survival in women with breast cancer has been shown. In these patients, physical activity also lowers anxiety-depressive syndromes and improves quality of life. We are proud to collaborate in the realisation of projects such as ‘Frecciarosa’, promoted by the world of volunteering and aimed at all citizens.”
“We can draw valuable lessons from the pandemic emergency. The most important is that health is wealth but also freedom, cohesion, community, work and equality. Without health and investments in Life Sciences, there is no future nor can there be a harmonious development of the Company,” concludes Enrica Giorgetti, General Manager of Farmindustria. “[EF2] It is with great pride that I recall the courage and determination of women in the battle against Covid, such as the health professionals, doctors and nurses along with public researchers and pharmaceutical companies. These women have represented and continue to represent a pillar of health and its management at the familial and social level, as the main caregivers. And who often take care of others but neglect themselves. This is why it is essential to continue to spread this culture of prevention that, as pharmaceutical companies, we have been promoting for some time, through targeted welfare aimed towards the person. As a leader amongst companies in terms of employing women, 43% of employees are female (compared to an industry average of 29%), even reaching 52% in R&D. And women often hold positions of responsibility – indeed, they make up 42% of executives and middle managers (52% amongst the under-40s). In the pharmaceutical industry, gender equality has been a reality for years.”