The International Prevention Research Institute announced in a press release that breast cancer mortality has dropped significantly in a fair number of countries across the world. Mortality rates from breast cancer were looked at in 47 countries and the results were announced at the 2016 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium this week.
While many countries saw a decline in breast cancer mortality, South Korea and a few Latin American nations still face disparity in lifespan among breast cancer patients.
“Breast cancer is by far the primary cancer site in women and, worldwide, represents a quarter of all cancers in women,” the study’s lead author, Cécile Pizot, MSc, from the International Prevention Research Institute in Lyon, France, said in a public statement. “Comparing mortality trends between countries helps identify which health care systems have been the most efficient at reducing breast cancer mortality.”
The researchers took data from the World Health Organization and studied the mortality outcomes among breast cancer patients from the years 1987 to 2013. The results show that breast cancer deaths dropped in 39 out of 47 countries worldwide. England and Wales saw the fastest decline in mortality rates for breast cancer patients with a 46 percent drop around these two nations.
The positive results are not a surprise to Pizot who says better diagnostics and treatment for breast cancer over the last several decades led to this positive outcome. However, Latin American countries did not fare so well and actually saw some increase in mortality rates among breast cancer patients.
Brazil and Colombia, for instance, had a rise in breast cancer mortality rates among women of all ages. South Korea also had an increase among all age groups including an astonishing 83 percent rise overall. The United States saw a decline in its mortality rate by 42 percent showing a drop from 22 out of 100,000 women in 1987-1989 to 14 out of 100,000 breast cancer patients in 2011 to 2013.
Worldwide, these rates declined more significantly for women under 50 years of age. The researchers attribute this to more aggressive and longer-term chemotherapy treatment among younger women in recent years. However, the researchers did not determine a specific, singular reason for the drop in mortality rates among breast cancer patients worldwide. It is likely to have been caused by a general expansion in cancer treatments and early diagnoses.
“This finding underlines the difficulty of isolating a single, common factor that would have a major influence on mortality trends,” Pizot said. “Differences in health care systems and patient management could explain discrepancies in mortality reduction between similar countries. However, there is at present little data comparing the management of breast cancer patients across countries.”