25% of women with cancer in Bulgaria suffer from breast cancer
Dr. Antoaneta Tomova: As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, once again we face a late diagnosis of the disease in Bulgaria
published on 11/4/21 12:10 PM
In early 2021, the World Health Organization declared breast cancer the most common cancer among the world's population. Organizations around the world have been involved in awareness campaigns to promote early diagnosis during the Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October. Bulgaria is no exception. One of the initiatives that will continue in the long term is "Keep going" of the association "Choose Bulgaria".
Its long-term goal is to inform people about the need for timely consultation with a specialist, because the best treatment for a disease is its prevention.
"This campaign was dictated by the need to inform women in Bulgaria about the possibilities for treatment of this disease," Ekaterina Genova, executive director of the Choose Bulgaria Association, told BNR. “The thing that I understood in the past weeks and I want to share is that currently in Bulgaria the treatment of breast cancer is using the same methods as those used in Europe. The point is to get to the right place and the right specialists in time. Finding timely information on how to get through, who to look for, and what steps to take proves crucial.”
Every 20 seconds in the world a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer, the statistical data for 2020 indicate. In Europe, this meant over 355 thousand patients last year. "This is a very socially significant diagnosis. A disease that, if diagnosed early by the right specialists, can be radically eradicated and the women affected can remain permanently cured for decades to come," says Dr. Antoaneta Tomova, a leading oncologist and participant in the "Keep Going" campaign.
"We are no longer talking about one in 8, but one in 7 women under the age of 74 who are facing such a diagnosis. In Bulgaria in 2020, more than 4,060 women fell ill, which means that 25.5% of all women with cancer suffer from this disease. Over the last 30 years, tremendous progress has been made in the treatment of many cancer diagnoses, especially breast cancer. Unfortunately, since March 2020, with these Covid-19 waves and various restrictive measures, the focus of public attention has shifted. And if until then my colleagues and I were examining small tumors around and below 1 centimetre and could cure them very reliably, suddenly this nightmare from over 30 years ago returned, in which we saw large progressive, metastatic tumors, even in young women in their early 30s, who came to us in the fourth stages of the disease. This is the worst consequence of this Covid-19 pandemic," Dr. Antoaneta Tomova admits.
Cancer is like a time bomb - once it appears, it aims to destroy the human body. And Dr. Tomova is adamant that patients themselves must be proactive - to seek adequate, comprehensive, modern and up-to-date treatment in order to solve the problem in a timely manner. Because the delayed treatment is very expensive, in many cases difficult to tolerate and at the same time is many times less effective.
The current pandemic situation and the fear of Covid-19 are not enough reason not to seek medical help in time. This is the opinion of Tsonka Todorova, chairwoman of the Association of Cancer Patients and Friends in Burgas, partner of the "Keep Going" campaign. She says currently morbidity is going higher in Bulgaria and more and more young women are diagnosed with breast cancer. The good news is that both the number of cured patients and of those in permanent remission are on the rise. She herself had to go through the difficult trial of having breast cander in 1987 when she was only 30 years old, but from her first-hand experience with the disease she says with a timely and precise treatment, is not a death sentence. That’s why it is extremely important to talk about the problem all year round, not just during specific initiatives. And while many of us tend to avoid visiting a doctor during the Covid pandemic, we should immediately consult a specialist if we have even the slightest doubt.
Vaccination against Covid-19 is well-tolerated by cancer patients, says Dr. Antoaneta Tomova.
"They can do it at any time if they are in remission or undergoing hormonal or radiation treatment. If they are undergoing treatment with more aggressive methods - surgery or chemotherapy - they need two or three weeks to recover after surgery or a course of treatment to administer the vaccines. Both the American and the European Society of Medical Oncology recommend that cancer patients be vaccinated," Dr. Tomova adds.
Compiled by Vesela Krasteva (based on interviews of BNR Horizont Channel and BNR-Radio Burgas)