Breast cancer mortality has been falling in Croatia for the fifth consecutive year, the Croatian Public Health Institute (HZJZ) said earlier this week ahead of Daffodil Day, noting that the disease was no longer the leading cause of mortality in women.
Breast cancer is now the third leading type of cancer causing death in the female population, after lung and colon cancer.
In terms of breast cancer mortality, Croatia ranks 15th in the EU, which is better than average.
The Daffodil Day will be observed this year for the 26th time, on the first Saturday in spring, to raise awareness of the importance of preventive breast examinations.
In 2019, Croatia recorded 2,999 cases of breast cancer (143.2 cases per 100,000 population), and 722 women died of that disease in 2020 (34.7 deaths per 100,000 population).
Due to population ageing, it is forecast that more and more women will be diagnosed with breast cancer.
Most cases are diagnosed in older women, and as many as more than 80% of new cases are women older than 50. Even though younger women, too, can be diagnosed with breast cancer, such cases are more rare, hence the importance of early breast examinations since early adulthood.
The drop in breast cancer mortality is partly owing to the implementation of the national programme for early breast cancer detection, which was launched in 2006, and includes invitations to screening mammography to all women aged 50-69 every two years, as well as increasingly better diagnostic and treatment methods.
According to the 2019 European Health Interview Survey, 77.3% of Croatian women aged 50-69 underwent mammography in the past two to three years.
During the COVID-19 pandemic mammography was not performed for only three months, in the spring of 2020, during the lockdown, but all the women who missed their check-up at the time received a new invitation to screening mammography in the autumn of 2020.
Around 150,000 women a year respond to invitations for mammography, and so far more than 7,000 new cases of breast cancer have been diagnosed using that method.