More Cancer Screening Centers Nationwide

About 60-70% of all cancers are preventable given the knowledge we have today.About 60-70% of all cancers are preventable given the knowledge we have today.

The aim of the national plan on cancer screening is two-fold: primary and secondary prevention. Under the former, a set of interventions that keep symptoms at bay are provided and include health counseling and public education.

“Under secondary preventive measures, interventions through screening, early detection, and prompt treatment are undertaken,” said Sasan Baladi, who is in charge of the nationwide project to boost the number of cancer screening and treatment centers.

Construction of the centers is called for in the 2014 Health Reform Plan. “So far, ten such projects in different parts of the country have been completed. The total land area allotted is 6,000 sq meters, and there are 90 chemotherapy beds at the centers,” quoted him as saying.

The focus of the centers (located within universities of medical sciences) is secondary prevention of different types of cancers through early and prompt treatment.

The construction of 21 more centers will be completed by the end of the current fiscal year in March which would provide “an additional 15,331 sq meters of space and 114 chemotherapy beds,” Baladi said.

According to official studies, before implementation of the national plan, measures in secondary prevention of highly preventable cancers including breast cancer were lackadaisical.

Although the incidence of new cases of breast cancer in Iran is less than the global average (30 per 100,000), the rate of early detection and treatment is significantly low in the country. Annually, 10,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer are diagnosed among Iranian women and 3,000 women die from the disease which means one-third of the cases end in death due to late diagnosis.

 Preventable, Can Be Reduced and Controlled

Knowledge about the causes of cancer, and interventions to prevent and manage the disease is extensive, says the World Health Organization. Cancer can be reduced and controlled by implementing evidence-based strategies for prevention, early detection and management of patients with the disease. Many cancers have a high chance of cure if detected early and treated adequately.

“About 60-70% of all cancers are preventable given the knowledge we have today,” said Alireza Zali, president of Iran’s Medical Council.

For example, breast cancer is less common in countries where the typical diet is plant-based and people consume less fast food, he said.

Unfortunately, Iranians love fast-food. According to official statistics released in 2013, some 70 million Iranians (23.8 million families) spend $6.3 billion annually eating at restaurants.

Obesity is another risk factor for developing certain kinds of cancers including cancers of the stomach, gall bladder, liver, meningioma (a form of brain tumor), multiple myeloma (a type of blood cancer), ovarian cancer and pancreatic and thyroid cancer.

Five important risk factors causing around 30% of cancer incidences include high body mass index, low fruit and vegetable intake, lack of physical activity, smoking and alcohol.

According to the Health Ministry, around 48% of people in Iran between the ages 15 and 64 have a BMI (Body Mass Index) over 25, which means roughly a little less than half of the country’s adolescent and adult population is overweight or obese.

Currently, more than 300,000 people suffer from cancer in the country and annually 90,000 new patients are diagnosed with the disease. During the last decade, the number of identified cancer cases (of all types) has increased three-fold and each year, 45,000 people lose their lives to the disease.

Till a decade ago, annually there were 30,000 new cases of cancer and the deaths per year due to the disease were between 10,000 and 12,000.


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