Up to 94 percent of women suffering from breast cancer can be saved if the illness is diagnosed in the early stages, doctors say.
However, on average only 40 percent of women in Russia regularly have a breast examination, often because they are not sufficiently aware of a potential threat. In some regions these figures are even lower. For instance, in St. Petersburg only 25 to 30 percent of women have an annual check-up, experts say.
For this reason, Royal Philips, a Dutch technology company, organized the fourth annual social campaign for breast cancer awareness in Russia last October. As part of the company’s global initiative called “Pink October,” hundreds of women had breast examinations in Moscow and St. Petersburg in private clinics free of charge. In November the campaign will also take place in a number of other Russian cities, including Yekaterinburg, Chelyabinsk, Kirov, Murmansk and Vladivostok.
Every day in October three or four women had a free breast examination in St. Petersburg’s International MEDEM Clinic, which participated in Philips’ campaign. The city’s women also had a chance to have a mammogram on the clinic’s new Philips digital mammography system MicroDose, which is characterized by an X-ray dose that is twice as low as other existing digital mammographic systems, and has the fastest procedure.
“Every year more than a million breast cancer cases are registered in the world, while 25 percent of those cases are found among women younger than 50,” said Peter Vullinghs, Philips CEO in Russia and the CIS.
“The social campaign of Philips is aimed to attract women’s attention to the need for a regular check-up, as detection of the illness at the early stage increases the possibility of full recovery by several times,” Vullinghs said.
In Russia breast cancer is diagnosed among 50,000 women every year, with 70 percent of women having no genetic predisposition to the illness, the company said.
Andrei Danshov, an oncologist at St. Petersburg’s International MEDEM Clinic, said breast cancer is the most frequent cancer type among women in the world, followed by cervical cancer.
In Russia the breast cancer detection frequency is 43 to 45 in every 100,000 women, and the survival rate from the illness is 45 to 50 percent. In St. Petersburg, the detection frequency for breast cancer is 50 to 55 in every 100,000 women and the survival rate is 59 percent, Danshov said.Meanwhile, in the U.S., the world’s leader in breast cancer detectability, the breast cancer detection frequency is 80 women for every 100,000 and the survival rate reaches 89 percent. In Europe, the survival rate from breast cancer is 70 to 80 percent, Danshov said.
“To a large extent, the positive result of the U.S. and Europe is conditioned by higher awareness among women about the need for a regular check-up,” Danshov said.
In fact, women should have their first breast examination after surpassing the age of 20. Normally for women between 20 to 30 years old, ultrasound scanning or a mammogram is recommended once every two or three years. After 30, an annual visit to a breast physician is recommended, especially if a woman experiences a nagging pain in their breast or other unpleasant feelings.
“After the age of 40, every woman should visit a breast physician and have a mammogram done every year, most preferably from the fifth to the 12th day of her menstrual cycle,” Danshov said.
This is because breast cancer is a so-called hormone-dependant type of cancer, and after the age of 40 women start having the first hormone changes in their body, increasing the risk of breast cancer, he said.
“The other negative hormone factors for potential breast cancer are abortions, particularly for women who have never had children before or rejected breast feeding and even from maternity. According to statistics, women who have had at least two children born before the age of 25 have three times less risk for breast cancer in future,” Danshov said.
A genetic history of breast cancer is also a worrying factor, so women whose close female relatives had breast cancer or cancer of other female organs should have regular check-ups from the age of 20 on, the oncologist said.
Meanwhile, general cancer factors include urbanization accompanied with pollution, irradiation, stress, poor nutrition with a diet high in fatty foods and a number of other components, doctors say.