Sociological Transition and Breast Cancer in the Arab World: the Experience of Lebanon

Document Type: Research Articles

Authors

1 Department of Family Medicine, American University of Beirut Medical Center (AUB-MC), Beirut, Lebanon.

2 Faculty of Health Sciences, American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon.

Abstract

 
Background: Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among females in Lebanon. This study aimed at analyzing its epidemiology in the country over time. Methods: Data were extracted from the Lebanese National Cancer Registry (NCR) for the years 2004 through 2010. Age-standardized and age-specific incidence rates for cancers per 100,000 population were calculated. Results: Breast cancer ranked first, accounting for an average of 37.6% of all new female cancer cases in Lebanon during the period of 2004-2010. Breast cancer was found to have been increasing faster than other hormone-related women’s cancers (i.e. of the ovaries and corpus uteri). The breast cancer age-standardized incidence rates (world population) (ASRw) increased steadily from 2004 (71.0) to 2010 (105.9), making the burden comparable to that in developed countries, reflecting the influence of sociological and reproductive patterns transitioning from regional norms to global trends. The age-specific incidence rates for breast cancer rose steeply from around age 35-39 years, to reach a first peak in the age group 45-49 years, and then dropped slightly between 50 and 64 years to rise again thereafter and reach a second peak in the 75+ age group. Five-year age-specific rates among Lebanese women between 35 and 49 years were among the highest observed worldwide in 2008. Conclusion: Breast cancer is continuously on the rise in Lebanon. The findings of this study support the national screening recommendation of starting breast cancer screening at the age of 40 years. It is mandatory to conduct an in-depth analysis of contributing factors and develop consequently a comprehensive National Breast Cancer Control strategy.

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