Breast Cancer in Asia

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Summary

Breast cancer is the commonest cancer in most countries in Asia. The incidence rates remain low, although increasing at a more rapid rate than in western countries, due to changes in the lifestyle and diet. There are many differences between breast cancer in Asia compared with western countries. The mean age at onset is younger than in the west, and unlike the west, the age-specific incidence decreases after the age of 50 years. Because there is no population-based breast cancer screening program in the majority of Asian countries, the majority of patients present with advanced disease. There is a higher proportion of hormone receptor-negative patients, and some evidence that the cancers in Asia are of a higher grade. Most of the Asian countries are low- and middle-income countries, where access to effective care is limited. Because of the late detection and inadequate access to care, survival of women with breast cancer in Asia is lower than in western countries. Improving breast health in most of the Asian countries remains a challenge that may be overcome with collaboration from multiple sectors, both public and private.