Breast cancer currently presents a serious epidemiological issue in the Czech Republic:
- Approximately 7,000 new cases of breast cancer are diagnosed in the Czech Republic each year, corresponding to more than 130 cancers per 100,000 women in the Czech population (Figure 1, incidence curve).
- Each year, there are approximately 1,900 breast cancer deaths among women in the Czech Republic, corresponding to more than 34 breast cancer deaths per 100,000 women in the Czech population (Figure 1, mortality curve).
Figure 1: Breast cancer incidence and mortality in the Czech Republic. (Source: Official results of the Czech National Breast Cancer Screening Programme from the year 2017)
Possibilities of breast cancer prevention on the level of individual women are rather limited. Since a risk factor explaining the development of breast cancer with a sufficient reliability has not been revealed yet (contrary to lung cancer, for example), timely diagnosis and early treatment is the only option for fighting the disease.
Possibilities of decreasing breast cancer mortality rates are demanding both from the organisational and financial point of view, but nevertheless have been repeatedly proved to be very cost-effective. Starting from September 2002, the Czech Republic joined the majority of European countries when it launched a nationwide breast cancer screening programme, enabling women aged 45–69 to undergo regular preventive examination, and paving the way for an increase in the proportion of early stages of breast cancer detected among the population of Czech women. The upper age limit was later cancelled: breast cancer screening is now free of charge (i.e. it is reimbursed from the public health insurance) for all Czech women aged 45 years and above.