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Experts urge breast self-examination in pink October

Pink October is International Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the most common form of cancer in women. Experts are calling for breast self-examination at all stages of life.

Integrated patient care

In the pink month of October, the Oncology Institute of Ljubljana joins initiatives to raise awareness of the disease and to highlight the importance of early detection and effective treatment of breast cancer.

"This year is also a busy one in terms of new findings in breast cancer treatment. We are pleased that we are keeping pace with the registration of new medicines at a satisfactory pace with the introduction of new drugs. We have made great progress in the field of integrated rehabilitation, but we still have a long way to go to extend the good experience from the OREH pilot study on oncological rehabilitation to all breast cancer patients in Slovenia," said oncologist Simona Borštnar.

According to Ms Borštštarša, the Oncology Institute has also launched a clinical breast cancer registry, which will not only help them to monitor the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer cases more accurately, but will also serve as a basis for monitoring the quality of the overall treatment of breast cancer patients across Slovenia, thanks to a rich database for more detailed analyses of cases of the disease.

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Give your best friend a pat on the health

The Europa Donna Slovenia Association, through the campaign Best Friend, is urging women to perform regular breast self-examinations and to recommend the same to their friends.

Psychosocial support is crucial for patients during their illness. During the illness, the patient needs a whole support network, both close and professional. "Cancer is a disease that takes over the patient's life and the lives of everyone connected to the patient. When a patient is in distress, he or she is aware of the importance of peer support, which, in addition to professionals, is the responsibility of friends, family members and those who have gone through the disease themselves," explained clinical psychologist Vesna Radonjić Miholič. "Patients do not want to be seen in a weak state, they want to be free from stigma," she said.

The Ljubljana Oncology Institute has developed support programmes for patients, which, among other things, serve to empower the patient and his or her family. On the freephone number 080 29 00, health experts offer general information and advice to patients on new problems. In addition to the call centre, supportive care is also available, whereby patients are interviewed to determine the intensity of their problems and referred to a specialist.

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Returning to work after treatment

Once patients are cured, they should be allowed to return to work. In the Dora screening programme, 80% of cancers are detected at an early stage, when treatment is quick and effective, so disability retirement and extended sick leave are not necessary in certain cases. "The process of returning to work must be slow, and vocational rehabilitation is needed."

As part of this year's campaign, municipalities have also been encouraged to raise awareness of breast cancer in their local area. More than 50 municipalities have responded and will plant 'pink trees'. The colour pink is the most recognisable symbol of breast cancer.

Several events are also planned for the coming month, which will take place all over Slovenia. They will raise awareness of the disease, remind people of the importance of a healthy lifestyle, early detection and responsibility for their own health.

Author: Vesna Žarkovič

Date: 10. October 2023

Time to read: 4 min