A new study published in The Lancet Oncology presents tumour–node–metastasis (TNM) stage distributions and trends in stage-specific incidence rates of breast cancer and cervical cancer in the newly independent states of the former Soviet Union. The study was led by researchers from the Cancer Surveillance Branch of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for Europe, with co-authors from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, the Republic of Moldova, the Russian Federation, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan.
The results indicate some progress in early detection of breast cancer in the 10 countries studied; high proportions of early-stage disease were observed even in the absence of mammography screening (e.g. in Belarus). For cervical cancer, the proportions of late-stage cancers were high, and stage-specific incidence rates mostly increased with time.
The authors highlight the need for a transition to population-based, quality-assured human papillomavirus (HPV) screening in these countries, alongside the introduction of HPV vaccination against cervical cancer. For breast cancer, the decision about whether to implement rapid diagnosis or organized population-based mammography screening programmes needs to be tailored according to national situation analyses.
Advancing the quality of cancer registry data in the newly independent states of the former Soviet Union will be critical for planning, monitoring, and evaluating the control of these common cancer types, as well as benchmarking progress in line with the scale of the WHO initiatives to tackle these cancer types.
Ryzhov A, Corbex M, Piñeros M, Barchuk A, Andreasyan D, Djanklich S, et al.
Comparison of breast cancer and cervical cancer stage distributions in ten newly independent states of the former Soviet Union: a population-based study
Lancet Oncol, Published online 5 February 2021;