Incidence of Breast Cancer in Bangladesh

November 26th, 2015 in International News

by Anisur Rahman Forazy, Begum Rabeya Khatun Chowdhury Nursing College, Sylhet, Bangladesh.

Breast cancer remains the most common cancer among women in Bangladesh. It has become a hidden burden which accounts for 69% of cancer death in women1. In Bangladesh, the incidence rate of breast cancer was about 22.5 per 100000 in females2; Breast cancer has been reported as the highest prevalence rate (19.3 per 100,000) among Bangladeshi women between 15 and 44 years of age when compared to other types of cancer. Cervical cancer ranked second for this group of women, with a prevalence rate of 12.4 per 100,000 in 2008-2010. An increase in incidence rate has been reported due to lack of disease awareness, lack of confidence about medical treatment, improper screening tests and maltreatment of early metastasis3.

Furthermore, patients are kept away from cancer treatment due to poor socio-economic infrastructure, social stigma of the disease and fear of the cancer treatment. The results of the maternal mortality survey conducted by the National Institute of Cancer Research and Hospital in Bangladesh (2010) showed that 21% of total number of death among women between 15 and 49 years of age was due to breast cancer.

Apparently, breast cancer is becoming a major public health concern of the Bangladesh government, which is evidenced by the establishment of the National Institute of Cancer & Research Hospital, Bangladesh. A study conducted in the northern part of Bangladesh named Khulna Division in 2007 – 2008 showed that 87% of new cases of breast cancer were diagnosed as stage III+, where cancer has spread to other parts of the body. The treatment options were limited and very expensive, especially in a low-resource country such as Bangladesh. The main possible reason is lack of public awareness for early detection of cancer, which reflects the actual situation in rural areas of Bangladesh.

Qualified specialty nurses are important as they play a vital role of providing holistic care to patients with cancer. Therefore, there is a strong need of developing a crash programme to prepare competent nurses, who should have knowledge of prevention and early detection of cancer, how to develop and implement an effective care plan, and counselling techniques. As we know, breast cancer in particular, can be treated effectively if detected early. Therefore, there is an urgent need of preparing Bangladesh nurses to take care of cancer patients as well as take part in cancer prevention and early detection of cancer.


  1. International Agency for Research on Cancer (2008). GLOBOCAN 2008: Cancer Incidence and Mortality Worldwide. http://www.iarc.fr/en/media-centre/iarcnews/2010/globocan2008.php
  2. Uddin A.F., Khan Z.J., Islam J., & Mahmud, A. (2013). Cancer care scenario in Bangladesh. South Asian Journal of Cancer, 2(2), 102-4.
  3. Editor (2013, October 9). Feature, Femina. The Daily Star.