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[email protected]: identifying barriers in breast cancer detection and treatment to better fight the disease

The ‘[email protected]’ group today discussed barriers in breast cancer detection and treatment as part of the October Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign.

“Breast cancer is the most common cancer affecting women, with an ever-increasing incidence of over 500,000 new cases each year in Europe, and 142,000 deaths annually,” said Professor Carole Mathelin (obstetrician-gynaecologist and Head of Department at ICANS, Strasbourg Cancer Institute). “About 10% of women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime,” she added.

Professor Mathelin recalled the objective of screening (to increase the detection of cancers at an early stage, to reduce the burden of treatment) and its advances (providing equal access for all, double reading of mammograms increasing the reliability of diagnosis, early detection of tumours, reduction of chemotherapy, and the possibility of evaluation at the community level).

“Unfortunately, detection rates in Europe are decreasing significantly, due to controversies related to the fear of over-diagnosis, over-treatment, and radiation-induced cancers,” she pointed out, with other barriers in detection being related to the socio-economic difficulties of part of the population or the existence of other health problems.

Professor Mathelin mentioned the main obstacles to treatment, such as the refusal of mutilation (currently 30% of women with the disease are treated by mastectomy) and the after-effects of surgery, the fear of adverse effects of treatment, denial of the disease, socio-economic difficulties for some people, and the lack of information for older women.

In closing the meeting, Sevinj Fataliyeva (Azerbaijan, EC/AD), a member of the Bureau of the '[email protected]' group, who chaired the meeting, proposed the preparation of a publication reviewing national best practices and relevant recommendations, consisting of an action plan to combat breast cancer.