World Breast Cancer Day, also known as World Breast Cancer Awareness Day, is observed on October 19th each year.

This day is dedicated to raising awareness about breast cancer, promoting early detection, and supporting individuals and families affected by this disease.

Breast cancer is one of the most common types of cancer worldwide, and early detection is crucial for effective treatment and improved outcomes.

On World Breast Cancer Day, various organizations, healthcare professionals, and communities around the world organize events, campaigns, and educational initiatives to promote breast self-examinations.

Advocate for regular mammograms, raise funds for research and support services, share information, and support survivors and their families.

The color pink is often associated with breast cancer awareness, and you’ll often see pink ribbons and various, pink-themed events and products during October, which is recognized as Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

The primary goals of World Breast Cancer Day are to reduce the stigma associated with breast cancer, encourage early detection, promote research and treatment advancements, and improve the quality of life for those living with the disease.

Cancer is a significant global health issue, causing nearly 459,000 deaths annually in the Eastern Mediterranean Region.

Over the past five years, this region has seen approximately 1.6 million cancer cases, creating a substantial burden on individuals, families, and communities both physically and emotionally.

World Cancer Day, observed as a public health concern, focuses on improving access to quality care, early detection, treatment, and palliative care.

In 2023, the campaign theme “close the care gap” highlights the need to address inequities in cancer care, especially in the context of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which places cancer patients at higher risk.

The most significant risk factor for breast cancer is gender, with women facing a considerably higher risk compared to men, who account for only about 0.5-1% of breast cancer cases.

However, the treatment protocols for breast cancer in men parallel those for women. Several other factors, such as increasing age, obesity, excessive alcohol consumption, family history, and genetic mutations, influence breast cancer risk.

President Dr. Arif Alvi of Pakistan emphasized the need to address breast cancer in his country, where limited screening and treatment facilities pose a significant challenge.

He highlighted the importance of early detection and the provision of treatment in the disease’s initial stages, noting that a permanent cure from breast cancer is possible in 98% of cases when diagnosed early.

In his message on the International Day Against Breast Cancer, President Dr. Arif Alvi expressed the need to improve women’s access to timely diagnosis and treatment, as breast cancer is the most prevalent cancer among women globally.

With a disproportionate number of deaths occurring in low and middle-income countries.

He called on the media to continue playing a crucial role in educating the public about breast cancer, with the hope that collective efforts could significantly reduce the mortality rate due to breast cancer in Pakistan.

Also Read: International Childhood Cancer Day

Between the 1980s and 2020, there was a 40% decrease in age-standardized breast cancer mortality in high-income countries. Countries successful in lowering breast cancer mortality achieved an annual reduction of 2-4%.

Strategies to improve breast cancer outcomes rely on strengthening the healthcare system to deliver effective treatments. This approach is also vital for managing other cancers and non-malignant noncommunicable diseases (NCDs).

Establishing dependable referral pathways from primary care facilities to district hospitals and dedicated cancer centers is a key component.

This approach, creating reliable referral pathways, is applicable not only to breast cancer but also to managing cervical cancer, lung cancer, colorectal cancer, and prostate cancer.

Breast cancer serves as a model disease, setting the path for the management of other diseases.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has initiated the WHO Global Breast Cancer Initiative (GBCI) with the goal of reducing global breast cancer mortality by 2.5% annually, preventing 2.5 million breast cancer deaths worldwide from 2020 to 2040.

This approach would avert 25% of breast cancer deaths by 2030 and 40% by 2040 among women under 70 years of age.

The three pillars for achieving these objectives are health promotion for early detection, timely diagnosis, and comprehensive breast cancer management.

Promoting public health education to raise awareness among women and their families about breast cancer signs and symptoms can encourage early detection and treatment. This can occur even in areas where mammographic screening is not feasible.

Healthcare workers should also be educated about the signs and symptoms of early breast cancer to refer women to diagnostic services as needed.

Rapid diagnosis should be coupled with effective cancer treatment, often requiring specialized care. Centralized services in cancer facilities or hospitals, with breast cancer as a model, can optimize breast cancer treatment while enhancing the management of other cancers.