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The Global Breast Cancer Initiative | WHO

by Nirdesh Baral

The Global Breast Cancer Initiative | WHO :Breast cancer is the most common cancer worldwide and the leading cause of cancer deaths among women, disproportionately affecting low- and middle-income countries. The Global Breast Cancer Initiative strives to reduce breast cancer mortality by 2.5 percent per year, which over a 20-year period can save 2.5 million lives. The purpose of this core technical package is to outline a pathway for incremental, sustainable improvements tailored to country-specific needs based on three key strategies and objectives: health promotion for early detection; timely diagnosis; and comprehensive breast cancer management. This document provides a common framework linking policy makers, stakeholders, the clinical community, program managers and civil society to evidence-based systematic approaches that can facilitate health systems strengthening and reduce inequities in women’s health throughout their life cycles.

The Global Breast Cancer Initiative | WHO : Breast cancer—the most common cancer worldwide and leading cause of cancer death among women—disproportionately affects individuals in low- and middle-income countries. Breast cancer five-year survival rates in high-income countries exceed 90%, compared with 66% in India and 40% in South Africa.Bridging inequities in breast cancer outcomes requires systematic improvements in access to resource-appropriate and quality services. The World Health Organization’s Global Breast Cancer Initiative (GBCI), established in 2021, brings together stakeholders from around the world and across sectors with the shared goal of reducing breast cancer by 2.5 percent per year, which over a 20 year period would save 2.5 million lives.
GBCI employs three key strategies to achieve these objectives: health promotion and early detection; timely diagnosis; and comprehensive breast cancer management. Through GBCI, WHO provides guidance to governments across the world on ways to strengthen systems for detecting, diagnosing and treating breast cancer, to further their capacities to manage other types of cancer.

Estimated increases (%) in new cases of and deaths
from breast cancer based on country classification, using the
United Nations Human Development Index (HDI), 2020–2040

Breast-cancer risk factors include inherited high-risk gene mutations, such as BRCA1 and BRCA2, but these inherited mutations only explain 10–20% of breast cancers at the population level. Hormone-related risk factors associated with reproduction, such as ages at puberty and menopause, pregnancy history and breast-feeding history, have a low impact on breast-cancer risk. However, these factors, like inherited gene mutations, largely cannot be manipulated or controlled to reduce breast-cancer risk. One of the strongest modifiable breast-cancer risk factors is alcohol consumption, which in 2016 contributed to 3 million deaths globally and was responsible for 5·1% of the global burden of disease and injury.6,7 Unfortunately, the significant majority of breast cancers cannot be prevented or avoided through risk-factor modification (“primary prevention”. Therefore, countries need to focus on breast-cancer early-detection programmes so that at least 60% of breast cancers are diagnosed and treated early in their progression (stages I or II), when treatment is most effective, best tolerated and least costly.

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