Early Diagnosis of Breast Cancer Can Save Lives

Healthy diet and lifestyle as well as personal hygiene, especially dental hygiene, can help reverse the growing trend of cancer as seen in the developed countries
Early Diagnosis of Breast  Cancer Can Save LivesEarly Diagnosis of Breast  Cancer Can Save Lives

Although it is globally recognized that early detection is effective in successful treatment of breast cancer, yet 35% of Iranian women afflicted with the disease are diagnosed late, compared to many other countries.  

Annually, around 10,000 women develop breast cancer in Iran, among whom 3,400 lose their lives. 

“Breast cancer is diagnosed late in 10 out of 30 Iranian women,” said Mohammad Hadizadeh, executive secretary of the 12th International Breast Cancer Conference to be held from Feb 22-24. 

Early diagnosis enables treatment in primary stages of the disease, thus raising the chances of survival to a considerable degree as well as improving the quality of life and reducing treatment costs. 

Most developed countries have now focused their efforts on timely detection of breast cancer, especially by regular screening methods. Screening of otherwise healthy women for breast cancer can help in early diagnosis.

In Iran, however, there is widespread ignorance about the disease and most high-risk women fail to get regular check-ups at an early stage and prevent its further progress. 

“The mass media have a key role in raising awareness among the public and help prevent the growth of breast cancer,” Hadizadeh told a press briefing. 

The specialist also said that the average age of the occurrence of breast cancer is 50 in the world while Iranian women get it around a decade earlier. 

“Globally, 6% of women younger than 40 develop breast cancer but the figure is 20% in Iran,” he said, IRNA reported. 

Breast cancer is a group of cancer cells (malignant tumor) that starts in the cells of the breast. It is the second leading cause of death among women and the fifth cause of mortality in mankind. 

The primary risk factors for breast cancer are being female and advancing age. Other potential risks are genetic factors, lack of childbearing or lack of breastfeeding, higher levels of certain hormones, certain dietary patterns, and obesity. Recent studies have indicated that exposure to light pollution is also a risk factor for its development.

  Emotional Risk Factors 

A study by the Cancer Research Center of Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences has also revealed three non-biological factors that can trigger the disease in women. 

According to Muhammad Esmaeil Akbari, head of the research center, family disputes and lack of mutual understanding in married life, divorce and losing a loved one are among the risks alongside biological factors. 

“The study indicated that emotional factors have a great influence in controlling the chances of cancer. A healthy family relation and a man’s support to his wife can help prevent the disease and increase the life expectancy of an affected patient,” he said. 

The researcher stressed the importance of regular mammography for women at 50 to 70 years of age to prevent the risk of advanced cancer. 

  Cancer Rates in Iran

Between 90,000 and 100,000 people in the country develop one form of cancer annually. The incidence of cancer is about one-fifth or one-sixth of the cases in western countries. 

“In western nations, 600 to 700 from every 100,000 people develop some form of cancer while the figure is 140 to 150 per 100,000 in Iran,” Akbari said.

The growth rate, however, is much higher than western as well as regional countries. Akbari attributed this to the longer lifespan which increases the odds of developing cancer.

Also, about 100 to 120 in every 100,000 people develop breast cancer worldwide, while the figures indicate 30 to 40 per 100,000 in Iran.

“Healthy diet and lifestyle as well as personal hygiene, especially oral and dental hygiene, can help reverse the growing trend of cancer as seen in the developed countries,” he said. 

Referring to jamming signals and electromagnetic waves, the expert said so far the links between electromagnetic waves and cancer has not been scientifically proved. 

Stomach cancer, also known as gastric cancer, is the most common cancer among Iranian men, which according to Akbari will be replaced by colon cancer in less than five years. 

  Cancer Center Ready in Two Years

Iran’s Cancer Control Center the construction of which began in April 2014 has progressed by 50% and is expected to be completed by 2018. With 800 hospital beds, the center will meet all the needs of patients from diagnosis to treatment. 

“In addition to research projects, educational programs will also be carried out at the center.” 

The largest share of cancer treatment costs in Iran pertains to chemotherapy. Hamidreza Mirzaei, scientific secretary of the upcoming conference, said trillions of rials are spent on chemotherapy medicines each year, many of which “don’t help increase patients’ lifespan.” 

“Radiotherapy is another popular treatment for cancer, but there is no advanced equipment for this method in Iran,” he said.  

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