The Thai National Cancer Institute (NCI) says Thai women aged 60 years and older are facing increased risk of breast cancer, and urges breast cancer awareness promotion and regular health checks.
The NCI recently warned Thai women that they are at high risk of breast cancer due to genetic factors, diabetes and lack of exercise, and encouraged them to pay more attention to their health and adjust their behaviour to reduce cancer risks. The NCI also announces the progress of its research project on breast cancer screening through blood test, which aims to widen access to breast cancer screenings for the public and reduce mortality associated with the disease. Dr Weerawut Imsamran, NCI Director, says breast cancer is the most common cancer in Thai women. The NCI’s statistics show that in Thailand, more than 13,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year. Morbidity is steadily growing in every age range and peaks at the age from 55 to 60 years. These statistics also indicates that women as young as 20 years old have growing risk of breast cancer. It is why the general public need to be aware of this silent threat because it can be completely cured if diagnosed early. As all women of reproductive age are at risk of having breast cancer, it is advised that they regularly perform breast self-exam and have their breasts examined by medical specialists. Mammograms are recommended from the age of 40 onwards Nevertheless, clinical breast exam has a limitation in that the number of qualified personnel is inadequate. Also, Mammogram is the most effective way to date but it incurs a cost too high for Thailand to provide it for every woman aged 40 or 50 years and older. In order to solve the problem and help more Thais to access breast cancer screening at a lower cost, the NCI started a research project in 2015 to develop a new screening method by identifying breast cancer marker in blood. The project has been financially supported by a number of private organisations, including the “Wacoal Pink Ribbon” breast cancer awareness campaign which has continued its support for a second consecutive year and held fundraising activities for the purchase of advanced medical equipment and the care of underprivileged breast cancer patients. Dr Somchai Thanasithichai, NCI Assistant Director of Quality Management System and Chief of Research Department, says researchers are carrying out the second and third phases of the project simultaneously to save time by six months to one year. The next step is to develop a substance that is sensitive to the cancer biomarkers and create a device for easy application. “If successful, this project will give Thai women new hope of more convenient access to effective breast cancer screening in order to reduce mortality from the disease,” Dr Somchai concluded.