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Latvian’s attitude towards combating cancer in late stages seems irresponsible

Ingrīda Circene/youtube.com.
The attitude towards combating cancer in late stages in Latvia remains very low, says former healthcare minister of Latvia Ingrīda Circene.

She says the number of cancer cases in Latvia is enormous. Every year approximately 11,000 new cancer cases are diagnosed in the country. The most common form of cancer among women aged 35-64 is breast cancer. This diagnosis is one of the main causes of death in the aforementioned age group, Circene said.

«Unfortunately, people’s own attitude towards their health plays a major role in all this, and people in Latvia are rather irresponsible. For example, only 30% of women respond to invitations to undergo state-funded cancer screenings. Attitude towards the option to reduce serious diseases in late stages, when medical assistance is often ineffective, is also low. Around 35% of all breast cancer cases are diagnosed in 3rd or 4th stage in Latvia.»

Circene reminds that breast cancer is hard to spot in its early stages, because symptoms are practically non-existent. This is why breast cancer control should be performed in advance and before complaints first appear. ‘Unfortunately, breast cancer-wise Latvia is 3rd from the end among OECD member states – we are only ahead of Chile and Mexico,’ says the doctor.

The point of cancer screening is diagnosing health changes as soon as possible. By the time women discover cancer by accident, the tumour will have reached a size of 3-3.5 cm. But if women regularly undergo breast cancer screenings, tumours are usually discovered when they are around 2 cm. To diagnose breast cancer earlier than that, women should undergo mammography. Mammography can uncover tumours when they are around 1.5 cm in size.

Circene also reminds that each woman should follow several important health principles. It is worth starting undergoing regular breast cancer screenings from the age 20 – at least once a month. If any cancer tissue is found through screening, it is important to seek professional assistance, the doctor advises.

She says that women aged 35-40 should undergo mammography for the first time. At the age of 40-50, it is worth undergoing mammography every other year. «I urge women to not ignore invitations sent by the National Health Service to undergo state-funded mammography. This service is organized and financed by the state for women aged 50, 52, 54, 56, 58, 60, 62, 64, 66 and 68.»

Women diagnosed with breast cancer, Circene invites to be responsible towards the treatment process and follow instructions provided by their doctor, as well as actively use assistance, including psychological assistance, offered by non-governmental organizations.


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