Health Blogs

Breast Cancer- Risks and the Importance of Screening

It is the most common cancer in Urban Woman in India. Breast Cancer accounts for 25 – 35% of all cancers in women.40 out of 1 lakh women are affected with breast cancer every year in India. The incidence of breast cancer is increasing at the rate of 16% per decade. The worrying trend in India is the age shift of breast cancer incidence is more towards the younger age group with about 25% of new cases now occurring in women between 25 – 40 years.

Am I at Risk?

Women with the following factors may be at higher risk of developing Breast Cancer.

  • Family history of breast or ovarian cancer
  • Taking hormones-estrogen & progesterone
  • Obesity
  • Inactive lifestyle
  • Excessive alcohol drinking
  • Early Menarche & Late Menopause
  • First pregnancy after 30 years
  • No pregnancy
  • Avoiding breast feeding

In addition to BRCA1 and BRCA2, there are other genes in which rare faults can also increase the risk of cancer. These faulty genes can only be detected by genetic testing and screenings.

 

Breast Cancer Screening

Importance of Breast Screening

Breast cancer screening is the single most successful cancer screening program in the world. Screening is a systematic evaluation of a ‘normal’ individual to see if there is any underlying cancer.

In women who have breast screening, most cancers are found at an early stage when there is a good chance that treatment will be entirely successful. In early cancer detection the cancer is likely to be small and there is more chance that it can be removed by a lumpectomy (removal of the lump) rather than needing a mastectomy (removal of the whole breast).Approximately 7 out of 10 (70%) women whose breast cancer is diagnosed by screening have breast conserving therapy, compared with 45% of women diagnosed outside the screening programme.

How can I get my Breasts Screened?

A woman must regularly do a Breast Self Examination. This includes regular and systematic monthly examination of the breast by a women herself to assess for any abnormality. She can also go through a Mammography. Women after the age of 20 years should be examined by a clinician for at least once every 3 years & yearly after 40 years or earlier if any abnormality is detected. Women at high risk (strong family history of Breast or Ovarian Cancer) should discuss their individual risk factors with their doctors because screening recommendations will be based on their particular risk factors.