Breast cancer is by far the most frequent cancer among women, causing hundreds of thousands of deaths every year. Early diagnosis is key to effective treatment, and can prevent deaths in many cases. Montenegro, a country where breast cancer is one of the most frequent causes of mortality, is working with the IAEA to strengthen early breast cancer detection and diagnosis.
According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer 27.6 women per 100 000 died from breast cancer in Montenegro in 2012, compared to 22.4 in the European Union. In 2012, 26% of the women diagnosed with cancer in Montenegro suffered from breast cancer, and approximately 18% died from the disease. Breast cancer is overall the most common cancer in Montenegro.
“For us, women, it is important to find courage to face this illness. This will help us to prevent it and take responsibility for our own health,” said Minister of Science Sanja Vlahovic.
Many women in the early stages of breast cancer show no physical symptoms. Without early screening programmes in place, breast cancer is only diagnosed at a later stage, after the symptoms have appeared.
Last year, the Ministry of Health received support from the IAEA for a breast cancer screening initiative in the capital, Podgorica. The country has upgraded its breast cancer detection methods and equipment, and has trained staff in mammography, a type of medical imaging technique that uses low-energy X-rays to examine the human breast. The screening programme is now in place, to serve as a pilot for nationwide rollout. In the past eight months, since the opening of the new Breast Imaging Centre, health professionals have carried out 1,267 mammographies, 128 of which have detected findings suspicious of cancer.