Health Blogs

A feel a day keeps the doctor away!

Your body is a love letter. Write health on it!!

Take care of your body. It is the only place you have to live. It is never too early or too late to work towards the healthier you. Your body is the most priceless possession so take care of it. Being a healthy women, isn’t about getting on a scale or measuring your waistline. It means to start focussing on what matters- on how our body feels, and how we feel about ourselves.I am interested in women’s health because I am a woman. So, of course I have to be on my own side. If I am able to motivate even one woman who reads this, I think my job is done. So, I am here to educate about women cancer and breast cancer in particular.

Cancer does not Discriminate:

Unfortunately, cancer does not discriminate between any one- young or old, rich or poor. It can effect anyone of us, whether a daughter, mother, sister, friend, co-worker, doctor or a patient.It may engulf anyone in its grip. So why not detect it early before it spreads its clutches throughout the body? So, an ounce of prevention is worth more than a million pounds of cure.

Cancer is showing a rising trend with each passing year. But fortunately the survival has also gone up. According to various estimates the incidence of the disease is expected to rise five-fold by 2025.It is the second largest cause of death worldwide after cardiovascular disease.  Earlier cervical cancer was the most common cancer affecting Indian females but now breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide (22%) and in India (18.5%) it ranks second to cervical cancer. According to recent reports, India has 17 percent of the world’s population suffering from breast cancer. The increasing awareness about pap smear and cervical cancer vaccine has brought down the incidence of cervical cancer substantially.In urban areas, 1 in 22 women develops breast cancer during her lifetime as compared to rural areas where 1 in 60 women develops breast cancer in her lifetimeCare for Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer is Rising :

The incidence of breast cancer is increasing in both developed and developing countries.Earlier older women above the age of 50 used to be affected but in recent years a lot number of very young females are also being diagnosed with breast cancer. The incidence rates in India begin to rise in the early thirties and peak at ages 50-64 years. Overall, 1 in 28 women is likely to develop breast cancer during her lifetime.Presently, 4% of women are in 20 to 30 yrs. age group which was never seen earlier. So, almost 48% patients are below 50. Cancers in the young, tend to be more aggressive. So all the more reason to catch these cancers early, since chances of long survival decrease fast with increasing stage of these tumours.

Majority of people are not bothered about breast cancer till a near and dear one suffers from it. In India, healthcare is low on priority and even in major cities, screening is also an ‘alien’ word for most people. Consequently, most patients present in advanced stages only when symptomatic, and on an average, most ‘symptomatic’ cancers are stage 2 and beyond (significant numbers in stages 3 and 4). This leads to a decreased survival in Indian women as compared to their western counterparts. I want to lower this trend by creating awareness about the disease.

Risk factors of Breast Cancer:

Early menarche, late menopause, late marriage, having first childbirth after 30 years, declining trend of breastfeeding, obesity, history of breast cancer in the family  and hereditary factors are some of the causative factors.

Although breast cancer generally shows no symptoms in the early stage, timely detection can turn a story of breast cancer into a survivor’s tale.A breast lump is often the first thing that women and even men notice that spurs a visit to their doctor. So, it’s important to know about all these symptoms.

Signs & Symptoms of Breast Cancer:

Early signs of breast cancer include – Changes in the shape of the nipple, breast pain that doesn’t go away after your next period, a new lump that doesn’t go away after your next period, nipple discharge from one breast that is clear, red, brown, or yellow, unexplained redness, swelling, skin irritation, itchiness, or rash on the breast, swelling or a lump around the collarbone or under the arm. A swelling that is hard with irregular edges is more likely to be cancerous.

Later signs of breast cancer include:retraction, or inward turning of the nipple,enlargement of one breast, dimpling of the breast surface, an existing lump that gets bigger, an “orange peel” texture to the skin, pain in bones, unintentional weight loss, enlarged lymph nodes in the armpit, visible veins on the breast etc.

Having one or more of these symptoms doesn’t necessarily always mean you have breast cancer. So, it’s important to see your doctor for a complete evaluation if anyone experiences any of these signs and symptoms.

How can we detect it Early?

Can we do anything to detect these cancers early and so bring down the mortality? Yes, definitely we can. Every female who is above 20 years of age should know about the feel of her breasts and start doing a monthly breast self -examination after her periods are over. Remember to examine the whole breast with pad of the hand with whole palm resting on the breast and not just with the tip of the fingers. And of course mammograms should be started at least at 40 years of age to detect very early changes of breast cancer before it becomes symptomatic. Your doctor would be too happy to guide you on this.

Depending on the type and stage of cancer, treatments can vary. However, there are some common treatments done are- surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. A lumpectomy is when your doctor removes the tumour while leaving your breast intact.A mastectomy is when your doctor surgically removes all of your breast tissue including the tumour and glands in the armpit.Chemotherapy is the most common cancer treatment, and it involves the use of anticancer drugs. These drugs interfere with cells’ ability to reproduce.Radiation uses X-rays to treat cancer directly.Hormone and targeted therapy can be used when either genes or hormones play a part in the cancer’s growth.

Breast cancer falls under the category of lifestyle disease.    Cancer can affect all living cells in the body, at all ages and in both genders. It is now known that over one-third of cancers are preventable, and one-third potentially curable provided they are diagnosed early in their course.Prevention where possible and early detection are crucial as treatment of late stage cancer is often difficult in less developed settings.

Breast self -examination and mammography are the noble techniques to detect breast cancer cases at early stages. If only women paid a little more attention to their breasts then the mortality from the breast cancer can go down substantially and majority of the women would be living with dignity without sacrificing the breasts.So we now know that “A feel a day can keep the doctor away.” Instead of thinking about what you will do when you are diagnosed think about what you will do now so you are not affected. So, what are you waiting for? Get ready and get your examination done today. That’s the first step towards a healthier you. And you will fall in love with yourself again!!!