Early detection in order to improve breast cancer outcome and survival remains the cornerstone of breast cancer control.

Breast cancer is the top cancer in women, the incidence of breast cancer is increasing in the developing world due to increase life expectancy, increase urbanization and adoption of western lifestyles. These strategies cannot eliminate the majority of breast cancers that develop in low- and middle-income countries where breast cancer is diagnosed in very late stages. Early detection can be used to improve breast cancer outcome and survival remains the cornerstone of breast cancer control.

The majority of women are diagnosed in late stages have the option to implement early diagnosis programs based on awareness of early signs and symptoms and prompt referral to diagnosis and treatment.

Cancer screening is a much more complex public health undertaking than early diagnosis and is usually cost-effective.

So far the only breast cancer screening method that has proved to be effective is mammography screening. Mammography screening is very costly and is cost-effective and feasible in countries with good health infrastructure. Low-cost screening approaches, such as clinical breast examination, could be implemented in limited resource settings when the necessary evidence from ongoing studies becomes available.

Breast cancer is the top cancer in women worldwide and is increasing because majority of cases are diagnosed in late stages.

Prevention

Control of specific modifiable breast cancer risk factors as well as effective integrated prevention of non-communicable diseases which promotes healthy diet, physical activity and control of alcohol intake, overweight and obesity, could eventually have an impact in reducing the incidence of breast cancer in the long term.

Early detection

Early detection improves breast cancer outcome and survival remains the cornerstone of breast cancer control.

There are two early detection methods:

  • early diagnosis or awareness of early signs and symptoms in symptomatic populations in order to facilitate diagnosis and early treatment, and
  • screening that is the systematic application of a screening test in a presumably asymptomatic population. It aims to identify individuals with an abnormality suggestive of cancer.

Mammography screening

Mammography screening is the only screening method that has proven to be effective.

Breast self examination (BSE)

The practice of BSE has been seen to empower women, taking responsibility for their own health and raising awareness among women at risk rather than as a screening method.

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