New roadmap on breast cancer: WHO

Introduction to breast cancer

In the glandular tissue of the breast, breast cancer develops in the lining cells (epithelium) of the ducts (85%) or lobules (15%). The malignant development is initially contained within the duct or lobule (“in situ”), where it often exhibits no symptoms and has a low risk of spreading (metastasis).
These in situ (stage 0) tumors may develop over time and infect the breast tissue around them (invasive breast cancer), then disseminate to neighboring lymph nodes (regional metastasis), or to other body organs (distant metastasis). Widespread metastases is the cause of breast cancer deaths in women.
The following behavioral decisions and related measures have been shown to lower the risk of breast cancer:

  • extended breastfeeding,
  • regular exercise,
  • weight management;
  • avoiding dangerous behaviors including drinking too much alcohol,
  • smoking, using hormones for too long, and
  • being exposed to too much radiation.

To achieve the goal of preventing 2.5 million deaths from breast cancer by 2040, the World Health Organization (WHO) today unveiled a new Global Breast Cancer Initiative Framework. Breast cancer is the most prevalent cancer in people, with more than 2.3 million cases diagnosed each year. Breast cancer is the primary or secondary cause of mortality for women from cancer in 95% of the world’s nations. However, there are significant disparities in breast cancer survival between and within nations. Nearly 80% of breast and cervical cancer fatalities take place in low- and middle-income nations.

“Countries with poorer health systems are least equipped to handle the rising costs associated with breast cancer. It puts enormous strain on people, families, communities, health systems, and economies, thus it must be a top priority for all governments and ministries of health, according to Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO. More than 70 countries, especially those with low and moderate incomes, are receiving assistance from WHO to find breast cancer sooner, diagnose it more quickly, treat it more effectively, and give those who have it hope for a future free of the disease.