October is breast cancer awareness month, marked in countries across the world every year, to help increase attention and support for the awareness, early detection, treatment as well as palliative care of the disease.
Figures from 2008 released by IARC Globocan, a subsidiary of the World Health Organisation, showed that there are about 1.38 million new cases and 458,000 deaths from breast cancer every year.
The disease is by far the most common cancer in women worldwide, both in the developed and developing countries.
In low- and middle-income countries the incidence has been rising steadily in the last years due to increase in life expectancy, increase in urbanisation and adoption of western lifestyles.
With insufficient information on the causes of breast cancer, early detection of the disease remains the cornerstone of breast cancer control.
When detected early, adequate diagnosis and treatment gives the patient a good chance that the cancer can be cured, but if detected late, curative treatment is often no longer an option, which is where palliative care to relieve the suffering of patients and their families is needed.