There are about 1.38 million new cases and 458 000 deaths from breast cancer each year (IARC Globocan, 2008). Breast cancer is by far the most common cancer in women worldwide, both in developed and developing countries. In low- and middle-income countries the incidence has been rising up steadily in the last years due to an increase in life expectancy, increased urbanization, and adoption of western lifestyles.
Currently, there is not sufficient knowledge on the causes of breast cancer, therefore, early detection of the disease remains the cornerstone of breast cancer control. When breast cancer is detected early, and if adequate diagnosis and treatment are available, there is a good chance that breast cancer can be cured. If detected late, however, curative treatment is often no longer an option. In such cases, palliative care to relieve the suffering of patients and their families is needed.
The majority of deaths (269,000) occur in low- and middle-income countries, where most women with breast cancer are diagnosed in late stages due mainly to a lack of awareness on early detection and barriers to health services.
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