Breast cancer to cause a million deaths a year by 2040: Lancet commission

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New Delhi: Breast cancer is now the world’s most common carcinogenic disease, with the ailment likely to cause a million deaths a year by 2040, , a new Lancet commission has found.

Around 7.8 million women were diagnosed with breast cancer in five years till the end of 2020 and about 685,000 women died from the disease the same year, it said.

Globally, breast cancer cases will increase from 2.3 million in 2020 to more than 3 million by 2040, with low- and middle-income countries being “disproportionately affected”, the commission estimated.

By 2040, deaths due to the disease will be a million a year, it added.

The Lancet report pointed to “glaring inequities” and suffering from symptoms, despair and financial burden due to breast cancer, which are often “hidden and inadequately addressed”.

Laying out recommendations for tackling these challenges in breast cancer, the commission suggested better communication between patients and health professionals as a crucial intervention that could improve quality of life, body image, and adherence to therapy, and positively impact survival.

“Women’s fundamental human rights have historically been accorded lesser respect than men’s in all settings, with implications for patient agency and autonomy,” said Reshma Jagsi, Emory University School of Medicine, US.

“Every healthcare professional should receive some form of communication skills training. Improving the quality of communication between patients and health professionals, though seemingly simple, could have profound positive impacts that extend far beyond the specific setting of breast cancer management,” Jagsi said.

“Patients should be encouraged to exercise their voices, choosing their level of involvement in care decisions,” she added.

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