Breast cancer is one of the largest causes of deaths among females across the country. There is a drastic increase in the number of patients in urban society and more so in young females. It is estimated that in India, 1 in 22 females will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.
What is Cancer?
Simply put, when the well- regulated cells of the body begin to ‘through tantrums’ and start dividing rampantly, it is called cancer. These cells become uncontrollable and present as clusters, more commonly called lumps.
An early diagnosis of breast cancer is the key to save a life.
Breast Cancer and Early Diagnosis:
Early diagnosis can be achieved only with awareness and screening. Primarily, a female needs to have an understanding of how the disease presents, so as to help her meet the specialist early. The easiest way to an early detection is by doing a self- breast examination. The other screening methods are mammogram and breast ultrasound. If you see any changes in the breast or have a family history of breast cancer, it is important that you contact a doctor and follow a prescribed regular health check up plan.
Diagnostic Tests for Breast Cancer:
The best ways to diagnose or detect breast cancer is :
- Self examination – It is the most easy and inexpensive, self help tool for detecting any changes in the breast. The procedure is simple and includes the women checking her breasts for any changes, lumps, discharge, change in shape, etc.
- Ultrasound – This is done for a single or both breasts to confirm the reasons for any aberrations in the breasts. This is done for women who are of 35 yrs of age or younger. The breast is scanned through the sonic waves to detect if there is any underlying abnormality.
- Mammography– A mammogram is ideally to be done in females post 45-50 years of age when the breast becomes less dense. It should be done once every year. It helps to pick up very small abnormalities that can be missed on clinical examination.
- Biopsy of the breast – A biopsy can confirm the presence or absence of the disease.
The various treatment modalities include surgery, Chemotherapy, radiotherapy and hormonal therapy. Breast cancer has a very high cure rate if detected early. Early detection is the best protection.