A new study on the incidence of breast cancer in Italy has been published in the International Journal of Experimental and Clinical Cancer Research. The authors belong to a multidisciplinary Italian-American team led by Prof. Antonio Giordano, Director of the Sbarro Institute for Cancer Research and Molecular Medicine College of Science and Technology Temple University of Philadelphia, USA.
"Cancer is also a matter of numbers," says Giordano , internationally renowned oncologist engaged for years in the fight against cancer, who recently launched an appeal — signed by over 500 researchers — to protect the environment from the irresponsible dumping of toxic wastes, carcinogenic waste. "The identification of the precise number of cancer cases at a population level and by geographical area is crucial to orient public health strategies towards cancer prevention and early diagnosis."
In this study, the researchers focused on breast cancer, the most common cancer and leading cause of cancer death in women. Based on data provided by the Italian National Institute of Statistics, 12,195 women died of breast cancer in 2009, compared to 11,476 in 2006. The authors analyzed the national archive of hospital discharge records to estimate the number of interventions, for mastectomy (en bloc removal of the breast) and quadrantectomies (partial removal) performed in Italy for a principal diagnosis of breast cancer from 2001 to 2008.
"Compared to our previous work in 2009, the present study not only expands the timeframe of interest, but it also excludes re-operations performed on the same patient throughout the considered timeframe. In this way, we have enhanced our ability to detect newly diagnosed cases while excluding previously diagnosed cases" — says Dr. Prisco Piscitelli, coordinator of the study.
The data showed that from 2001 to 2008 a total number of 328.888 mastectomies and quadrantectomies were performed (117.762 and 211.126, respectively). The overall number of mastectomies decreased in the time window considered (from 15.754 in 2001 to 14.197 in 2008). However, when analyzing data by age groups, the reduction occurred in women between 45 and 74 years, whereas the number of mastectomies did not significantly change in women between 25 and 44 years. Furthermore, the total number of quadrantectomies increased significantly across all the classes of age considered (from 22.140 in 2001 to 30.800 in 2008).
The analysis by macroareas (ie Northern Italy, Central and Southern) confirmed the reduction of mastectomies, although there were inter-regional discrepancies possibly due to differences in coverage and adherence to screening programs. The quadrantectomies increased significantly, with the highest values in Southern Italy (from 3.812 in 2001 to 6.538 in 2008). The number of surgeries repeated within the same year increased from 4.682 in 2001 to 5.909 in 2008.