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The importance of breast cancer prevention beyond October

Susan G-Komen Italia answers our themed questions

The importance of breast cancer prevention beyond October Susan G-Komen Italia answers our themed questions

October is the month selected by the international community to raise awareness of the impact of breast cancer in the female population in particular. The numbers on cancer in Italy in 2021 estimate 55,000 new diagnoses and 12,500 deaths, a figure that according to ISTAT has been steadily decreasing since the late 1990s (-0.8%/year), thanks to the greater diffusion of early diagnosis programmes and the anticipation of diagnosis, and therefore to all the initiatives organised by foundations such as Susan G Komen that deal with dissemination and education for the prevention of breast cancer. One sign that awareness has an extremely positive impact on the disease is that early detection of breast cancer ensures a 90 per cent better chance of access to less invasive and painful therapies. If adopting a healthy lifestyle can reduce your risk of falling ill, performing simple diagnostic tests on a regular basis can literally save your life. This is demonstrated by the impact of the pandemic on cancer screening and operations, which has led to delays in surgeries, life-saving treatment and a complete shutdown of screening programmes with 1 million fewer mammography examinations and more than 3,500 women discovering they have breast cancer at a more advanced stage. 

We must never stop reminding ourselves: prevention remains the most effective weapon that women (but also men and anyone with a breast) of all ages have. In Italy there are about 53,000 new cases of breast cancer every year. Five to six per cent, i.e. around 3,000 cases, affect women who have not yet turned 40, with a 29 per cent increase in the incidence of breast cancer in our country in the last six years among young people aged 25 to 44. Of these cases, more than 10% are related to mutations in the BRCA genes. Consequently, it becomes very important to start prevention from the age of 20. 

Talking about cancer and breaking taboos about the disease is crucial. October, Breast Cancer Prevention Month, is therefore an opportunity to talk about screening, self-examination, to inform and empower everyone, but it cannot be the only opportunity. Thus the community of cancer survivors and people like Nicoletta Saracco, who on social networks share experiences, fears and progress with the disease, and initiatives of associations like Komen Italia as Eliana Naso, Chief Marketing Officer, tells us. Some examples are the Race for the Cure, the largest event for the fight against breast tumours in Italy and the world; the collaboration with LPG and their endermologie® medical, which can bring important benefits such as optimising microcirculation, reducing the painful phenomena associated with scars or alleviating lymphoedema; the Caravan of Prevention, the National Itinerant Programme for the Promotion of Women's Health, which in the last 5 years has offered free 'home visits' for the early diagnosis of breast tumours to over early diagnosis of breast cancer to over 30,000 women.

The need to continue to keep the spotlight on the issue of breast tumours and, more generally, on women's health, and to concretely promote prevention in its various forms, goes hand in hand with ever-changing needs that change over the years. First and foremost, there is the support of those who experience the disease. It is essential that everyone has access to the best and latest diagnosis and treatment protocols, but also to additional therapeutic resources, which are useful in guaranteeing not only an adequate treatment of the tumour, but also the best recovery of full psycho-physical well-being.