In 2021, the World Health Organization (WHO) launched the Global Breast Cancer Initiative (GBCI), which aims to reduce global breast cancer mortality by 2.5% per year, thereby averting 2.5 million breast cancer deaths globally by 2040. Achieving this ambitious target is feasible provided that health systems have adequate capacities to (i) diagnose at least 60% of invasive breast cancers at an early stage (stage I or II), (ii) complete evaluation, imaging, and pathology of women who are suspected to have breast cancer within 60 days, and (iii) comprehensively treat at least 80% of women with breast cancer. Building capacities of health professionals at the primary and secondary levels of care to be able to recognize the early symptoms of breast cancer, perform appropriate clinical assessment, conduct radiological examination, and establish a pathology diagnosis is pivotal to fulfil the GBCI objectives.
The Atlas of Breast Cancer Early Detection
prepared by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) will be a very helpful resource for different levels of health professionals involved in early detection of breast cancer, especially in limited-resource settings. The atlas, which is freely available online, has four sections. The first section, on clinical breast examination
(CBE), deals with breast anatomy and commonly encountered benign and malignant conditions of the breast and describes CBE step by step.
The second section, on breast imaging
, describes the techniques of mammography and breast ultrasound and explains the morphological appearance of common benign and malignant breast lesions using standard terminologies.
The third section, on breast pathology
, details various methods and steps used to process the tissue samples before cytological or histological examination.
The final section, case studies
, provides readers with a comprehensive understanding of the clinical, radiological, and pathological features of common benign and malignant conditions of the breast.
This atlas, which includes hundreds of downloadable images and many videos, is targeted towards nurses and physicians working in the primary and secondary levels of care, radiology and pathology technicians, and medical students. In addition, surgeons, gynaecologists, radiologists, and pathologists will also benefit from this online resource and may use the images and videos for teaching.
IARC is especially thankful to Dr Anita Gadgil, Dr Surita Kantharia, and Dr Susan Cherian from the Bhabha Atomic Research Center (BARC) Hospital, Mumbai, India, for greatly contributing to this atlas. The images and case studies have been meticulously collected by them over many years. I am sure that readers will find the atlas a very important resource to improve their practice.
Click to return to the atlas
| Dr Elisabete Weiderpass|
Director, International Agency for Research on Cancer