WHO releases new guidelines on breast cancer

Recommends “organised” screening to cut down breast cancer mortality by 20 per cent

 
By Moushumi Sharma
Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

imageThe World Health Organization (WHO) has come out with a set of new strategies to fight breast cancer. The “WHO position paper on mammography screening” examines the balance of benefits and dangers of mammography screening for women above 40. The organisation has also released “guidelines for referral of suspected breast cancer in low-resource settings”. Both are part of a broaderset of guidelines that will be developed in the coming years, says the position paper. This will include primary prevention, diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation and palliative care.

According to WHO, breast cancer kills more than 500,000 women around the world every year. In resource-poor settings, a majority of women with breast cancer are diagnosed at an advanced stage, lowering their survival rate.

Although breast cancer is common among post-menopausal women, it may develop at a younger age. The position paper, however, makes group-wise recommendations for women starting from the age of 40. It states that breast cancer mortality can be reduced by 20 per cent with “organised, population-based mammography screening programmes”. This has been defined by WHO as sharing certain characteristics—they are high standard, target all the population at risk, have an administrative structure responsible for quality evaluation of the screening process.

The emphasis on mammography screening stems from the controversy surrounding the most effective method of early detection of breast cancer.

 

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