Healthplan Spain


Spain's Breast Cancer Federation Urges Extension Of Screening Age And Inclusion Of Men Health News

On the occasion of International Breast Cancer Day, celebrated this Thursday, October 19, the Spanish Breast Cancer Federation (FECMA) has highlighted the importance of expanding the age range for breast cancer screening and incorporating men into these screenings. The federation has recalled the recommendation of the European Union to extend the age range for breast cancer screening from 45 to 74 years, in contrast to the current reference age of 50 to 69 years.

Paula González Peña, a representative of FECMA, emphasised that breast cancer risk is influenced by various factors, including genetics, lifestyle habits, environmental factors, and age. She stressed that age should not be the sole determinant of screening eligibility, as each patient's situation is unique. FECMA underlines the significance of prevention, early detection, innovation, accessibility, and research in combating breast cancer.

FECMA, along with 47 women's associations, has published its Manifesto 2023, which is endorsed by the Spanish Society of Medical Oncology (SEOM) and the cooperative research groups GEICAM and SOLTI. María Antonia Gimón, the president of FECMA, has called for the incorporation of European Plan to Fight Cancer recommendations into Spain's National Health System and stressed the need for a binding agreement within the Interterritorial Council of the National Health System.

Dr. Sara López Tarruella, a member-secretary of the Board of Directors of SEOM, explained that breast cancer screening in Spain follows national and international recommendations, with adaptations based on available evidence. For women at high risk of breast cancer due to genetic mutations or family syndromes, individual risk assessments and specific protocols are recommended. It is crucial to consult a medical professional in the event of any breast abnormalities.

FECMA and experts from the International Breast Cancer Center also urged the inclusion of transgender individuals with developed mammary glands in screening programs. Mammography remains the primary tool for detecting breast cancer, but women are encouraged to participate in early detection campaigns when called upon.

FECMA emphasised the importance of public health system-managed screening programs with free access, ongoing availability, qualified personnel, and quality controls. The Manifesto stressed that addressing cancer comprehensively requires a multidisciplinary approach, combining prevention, early detection, healthcare response, research, and innovation. Achieving this goal necessitates equitable access and the correction of territorial inequalities in investments.

Although the general recommendation for breast cancer screening in Spain is for women between 50 and 69 years old to undergo biennial screening, scientific evidence supports the effectiveness of screening up to age 74. However, only five autonomous communities in Spain have expanded the age range to 74 years. Other regions have made slight adjustments to the age range, either increasing or reducing it, based on their specific circumstances.

FECMA expressed hope for the political will to improve access to and expansion of breast cancer screenings and the promotion of consistency across all regions. They believe stronger commitments are needed to ensure test accessibility and reduce waiting lists. Breast cancer is a significant public health concern, with a growing global trend. Despite this, advances in research and early detection have contributed to a reduction in cancer mortality.

The importance of early detection and improved access to innovative treatments was underscored in the Manifesto, as metastatic breast cancer remains a significant challenge. FECMA has called for streamlining processes for access to innovative cancer medicines and supported the PERTE project for Vanguard Health, emphasising the role of research and early detection in improving cancer survival rates.

In 2022, a total of 34,740 individuals in Spain received a diagnosis of breast cancer. Among them, 23 percent fell into the age range of under 49, between 60 and 69 years old, while 25 percent were aged between 50 and 59. Furthermore, 29 percent of diagnoses were in individuals over the age of 70. Breast cancer stands as the most prevalent tumour among women globally, contributing to 30 percent of all cancer cases detected in Spain, particularly affecting women between 45 and 65 years of age.

As we move into the year 2023, SEOM's Cancer Figures in Spain 2023 report, utilising data from the Spanish Network of Cancer Registries (REDECAN), foresees the diagnosis of 279,260 new cases of cancer throughout Spain. Among these, 35,001 cases are expected to be breast cancer, and a significant portion, 164,403, will impact individuals over the age of 65. Breast cancer typically manifests between the ages of 35 and 80. However, the age bracket of 45 to 65 exhibits the highest incidence, numbering at 16,965 cases, primarily attributed to hormonal fluctuations. Meanwhile, women over 65 are estimated to experience 13,904 instances of breast cancer.