One in every 185 women aged 45 and above has breast cancer but may not know it, the Bureau of Health Promotion said.
According to statistics on causes of death compiled by the Department of Health and the bureau’s cancer registry data, the standardized breast cancer incidence rate is 63.2 per 100,000 women, with a mortality rate of 11.6.
Women aged 45 to 69 are at the highest risk of developing breast cancer among the age groups, with 169 to 187.2 people developing breast cancer in every 100,000, the health agency said.
The high risk prompted the bureau to offer free screening tests every two years to women aged 45 to 69.
Women aged 40 to 44 who have close blood relatives with the disease can also make use of the free tests.
About 670,000 women in the 45-to-69 age group had mammograms last year, the bureau said.
About 60,000 of these tested positive, and about 3,300 were later confirmed to have breast cancer, it said.
This shows that one in every 185 women who underwent screening had the disease, it said.
However, about 10,000 of those who tested positive did not return for further examination, possibly out of fear or because they think they are okay because their body has not exhibited abnormal symptoms.
Bureau of Health Promotion Director-General Chiou Shu-ti (邱淑媞) urged those who tested positive to have follow-up examinations, adding that early treatment is vital to dealing with the disease.
The five-year survival rate for early breast cancer detection (stages 0, 1 and 2) in Taiwan is about 90 percent, with the percentage dropping to 70.6 percent for stage 3 cancer and to 24 percent for stage 4, the bureau said.