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Cancer Epidemiol. 2009 Nov;33(5):315-8. doi: 10.1016/j.canep.2009.10.003. Epub 2009 Nov 7.

Breast cancer as a global health concern.

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Environmental Epidemiology Service, Office of Public Health and Environmental Hazards, Department of Veterans Affairs, Washington, DC, USA.


Public health data indicate that the global burden of breast cancer in women, measured by incidence, mortality, and economic costs, is substantial and on the increase. Worldwide, it is estimated that more than one million women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year, and more than 410,000 will die from the disease. In low- and middle-income countries (LMCs), the infrastructure and resources for routine screening mammography are often unavailable. In such lower resource settings, breast cancers are commonly diagnosed at late stages, and women may receive inadequate treatment, pain relief, or palliative care. There have been an increasing number of global health initiatives to address breast cancer including efforts by Susan G. Komen for the Cure((c)), the Breast Health Global Initiative (BHGI), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American Cancer Society, the National Cancer Institute (NCI), and ongoing work by leading oncology societies in different parts of the world. To support such initiatives, and to provide a scientific evidence base for health policy and public health decision making, there is a need for further health services research and program evaluations. Cancer registries can be invaluable in ascertaining the magnitude of cancer disease burden and its distribution in these countries. Additional data are needed for various geographic areas to assess resources required, cost-effectiveness, and humane approaches for preventing or controlling breast cancer in low resource settings in developing countries.

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