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Breast cancer among young people rises

Update: November, 06/2017 - 09:00
A woman in HCM City gets mammographic screening to control her risk of contracting breast cancer. — VNA/VNS Photo Phương Vy
Viet Nam News

HCM CITY — Young women aged less than 25 and men suffering from breast cancer has become not uncommon in Việt Nam, Dr Trần Nguyên Hà of the HCM City Oncology Hospital told Việt Nam News.

“Five years ago, few patients less than 25 were diagnosed with breast cancer,” Hà said, adding that dozens of these cases now are treated at the hospital.

The latest case was a 18-year-old girl, he added.

According to him, although the prevalence of breast cancer is still lower in Việt Nam than the global average, with 23 cases per 100,000 population, the trend is increasing. Breast cancer is most common in Việt Nam among patients aged 45 to 55, younger than the global average.

The number of patients with breast cancer has increased year-by-year, with nearly 2,000 incidences at the Oncology Hospital, double that of previous years.

Dr Phạm Xuân Dũng, director of the Oncology Hospital, said that the increasing incidences detected are the result of improved awareness about this cancer via government communication programmes.

The proportion of patients with breast cancer who are diagnosed at early stages has risen to 60 per cent in the last five years from 40 per cent in the previous time, Dũng said.

“If detected at the early stages, the five-year survival rate is 90 per cent,” he said, adding that this positive figure is due to advanced treatments including drugs available in the country.

However, the remaining 40 per cent of patients with breast cancer detected at late stages are a health burden for the country, Dũng added.

Hà said that 20 per cent of them were tested positive for human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2), known as protein overexpression.

It causes cancerous cells to grow and spread to other organs in the body faster than in patients with normal levels of protein, and it was very difficult to treat.

Speaking at a conference on new progress in the treatment of breast cancer with the application of HER2, which is a gene that can play a role in the development of breast cancer, held on November 4 in HCM City, Hà said that new advanced drugs, which are available in the country, help solve this difficulty.

Dr Paul Mainwaring of Centre for Personalised Nanomedicine in Australia said that they have not only helped prolong the lives of patients with breast cancer at these late stages but also improve the quality of life, which is very important.

“These new advanced drugs and technologies give doctors more choices in treatment in order to bring the best benefits to their patients. Helping patients access treatments is very vital because these new advanced drugs and technologies are very costly,” Dũng said.

The cost is a common challenge for many countries in the world, including Việt Nam, he said, adding that Việt Nam’s Government should have a health insurance policy for patients with cancer, including breast cancer.

“The best way to solve cancer is that people should visit health facilities for screenings for early detection and treatment. The cost for treatment at the early stages is very low and the effectiveness of the treatment at these stages is better,” he added.

The conference was held by the city Oncology Hospital in co-operation with the HCM City-based representative office of Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd. — VNS

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