Every eighth woman with breast cancer
Macedonia is one of the few countries in Europe where mortality from cancer has increased in the last 15 years, and breast cancer is among the most common causes of death
Although cancer patients should not pay for examinations, still everyone has to pay
The most common cause of death in women from malignant neoplasms in the period from 2010 to 2017 is breast cancer, according to the Institute of Public Health. The mortality rate ranges from 30.0 in 2010 to 26.9 in 2017 and according to the international cancer research center Globokan, Macedonia is one of the few countries in Europe where mortality from cancer has increased in the last 15 years, and breast cancer is among the most common causes of death. Most deaths were recorded in 2016 with 32.7 per 100,000 women. Black statistics not only in the country but also in the world show that the incidence of breast cancer is on the rise and every eighth woman has this severe illness. According to the same research center, about 30% of deaths from malignant diseases are due to the five leading risk factors:
– unhealthy behavior and unhealthy diet
-increased body mass index
– low level of consumed fresh fruit and vegetables
– lack of physical activity
– smoking and alcohol consumption
With 1 in 8 women with breast cancer, Macedonia within the European countries
According to the estimates by the World Health Organization, the number of cancer deaths is projected to rise to 13,100,000 by 2030. At European level, cancer causes 20% of deaths, and every year with more than 3 million new cases and 1.7 million deaths, cancer is the most important cause of death in Europe after cardiovascular diseases. First in the world in 2018 is the malignant neoplasm of breast with an incidence rate of 11.7 per 100,000 women.
The director of the Oncology Clinic, Nino Vasev, in a statement for Inbox 7, says that for the number of cases and new cases of breast cancer our country is in the ranking of western countries.
“Our statistics on women with cancer are moving absolutely within other Western countries and we are on the same level with newly discovered cases. In our country, there is cancer in 1 of 8 to 9 women, and in Denmark, for example, it is worse, 1 in every 7 women has breast cancer. There are no abrupt increases on an annual basis, there are some gradual, but they are not drastic”, said Vasev.
Doctors appeal to raise awareness, but patients wait too long for an examination
However, doctors point out that because of these defeating figures, it is even more important to raise awareness among the population that early detection of the disease is very important for its treatment and for increasing the possibility of perennial survival. As with any malignant disease, early detection of the disease is of particular importance. The key to early disease detection is to perform regular controls or screening in women, especially after the age of 40 with ultrasound and mammography.
Last year, breast cancer patients were waiting for months to schedule a checkup by “My Term”. Health Minister Venko Filipce then admitted that there were problems with scheduling mostly due to lack of staff.
Science still has no answer about the cause of breast cancer, although there are several risk factors that can contribute to the onset of this disease.
Doctor Deva Petrova oncologist radiotherapist from the Acibadem Sistina Clinical Hospital estimates that the risk of this disease increases with the age of the woman, most often occurs after the age of 50, in 25 per cent it occurs at the age under 50, and in 5 percent of women the disease occurs under 35.
“Among the risk factors for breast cancer, in particular, is the genetic predisposition, then hormonal therapy with estrogens, exposure to ionizing radiation. There is an increased risk of developing this disease in obese women and in women who have not given birth. Recent research suggests that certain lifestyle habits such as smoking, drinking alcohol and reduced physical activity increase the risk of this cancer”, said Dr. Petrova.
Dr. Vasev adds that late menopause plays a role, life style, genetics, but, according to him, if someone in the family has breast cancer it does not mean that a close in the family will get it with a high percentage of certainty. He says that we are at a higher level of treatment, even higher than some of the more developed countries.
“In interventions and treatments we are practically faster than England. After surgical interventions, if chemotherapy is needed, it begins the same day, while it takes 3 weeks for radiation, and in England it is even 2 months after surgery. We are very fast in that regard. That is well done. We have the most modern chemotherapy”, emphasizes Dr. Vasev.
Sveti Nikole is one of the towns with most patients
Daniela Paneva, president of the Women’s Organization of Sveti Nikole, said that since 2002 they have organized a self-help group for women with breast cancer and continuously organize monthly workshops to help them not only in the supply of wigs and bras, but also educational workshops and psychological help.
“The group is continuously coming to these meetings, now there are 46, some have died before, some new come event at the age of 35, and it is defeating that there are cases with much younger patients than before. I do not know whether our municipality Sveti Nikole is still with the biggest increase in malignant cases and the highest mortality. Women’s organization sought and received a mammogram 7-8 years ago, so now it is a bit easier for women in this region to have regular checkups”, Paneva says. She adds that the finances are a problem for most of the women, to pay the checkups and they are entitled to one free bra from the Health Fund. The biggest assistance women need when they first go for chemotherapy.
“The first time they face the fact that they need to be given chemotherapy they find it very tragic and then women need psychological help the most. Then they are in a very difficult situation and cannot think properly. At these gatherings we work primarily individually, but also in groups and apart from education and procurement of prostheses, we organize projects with group visits with other women to contact and exchange experiences”, Paneva points out. We asked her if there was any knowledge or investigation to determine why this region exactly has a drastic appearance of cancer patients.
“Nothing was officially announced. Just some assumptions. Initially it was water and they changed the pipes. Then there was doubt as to the asbestos mine, the meteorological station, it was even claimed that there were bombs with radioactive radiation in Sveti Nikole’s dam, but the exact cause is not yet known. The fact that everyone in the family has at least one with cancer is defeating and nobody has made a good analysis to determine what the real cause of the high incidence of carcinogenic diseases is and to take action”, Paneva said.
Free health for cancer patients on paper only
Snezana Velkovska from Sveti Nikole had breast cancer surgery about 5 years ago and since then her life has changed, daily fight against this severe illness. The greatest support is from her closest relatives and as she points out their positive energy, but the key to bearing the disease is her fighting spirit and optimism.
“When I found out about the disease, believe me, I needed a psychologist the most, and I think it is necessary for every woman, as one big support and direction how to deal in the labyrinth of the disease. I was quickly operated and went to oncology and there was a doctor there that I have no words for to describe how professional and human she was. She helped me a lot. And to this day, I respect her and I am very grateful”, recalls Velkovska. From what she has noticed in others, she says that facing the lack of finance and the psychological state of many makes them give up and reduces the will to fight.
“We are far from Skopje and we have to travel by taxi. We need an escort because in these difficult moments of treatment we go and come back crying. We need someone by us in those moments. A lot succumbed due to poverty and lack of support because we have very low income here. I have been on therapy for so many years, and although they say that cancer patients do not pay for any examinations or mammograms, it has never been for free. When I need to have my checkup, I spend my whole pension of 8 thousand denars “, says Velkovska. I do not know if you have heard, she adds, in the last few years we have been considered to be second city in Macedonia with cancer patients. When operated in August 2014, Velkovska was 63rd diagnosed with cancer in Sveti Nikole, and by the end of the year she said that the number had reached more than a hundred patients.