Breast cancer is now the most common cancer among women. The latest survey by WHO shows each year approximately 20 lakh new cases of breast cancer are diagnosed worldwide. Roughly it comes to 1 in 8 women having a chance of developing breast cancer in her lifetime. In India the total number of new breast cancer patients is 1.62 lakh per year making it the most common cancer. Moreover, the situation in our country is worse as patients present at a higher stage compared to the western countries and so have a poor outcome. The annual death associated with breast cancer is around 87,000 in India. This is mainly due to lack of awareness among the patients and ineffective treatment.
October is the breast cancer awareness month and it’s a great time to improve our knowledge of this disease, its risk, symptoms, preventive measures and the treatment options.
What is the cause of Breast Cancer??
General aging and wear and tear of the body is probably the largest risk factor for Breast Cancer. Other risk factors which can be modified include a lack of physical activity, excess weight or obesity. Not having children or late first childbirth also contributes to increased risk.Only a small percentage (approx 10 percent) of breast cancers come from an abnormality that you inherit from your mother or father.
How to know if i have Breast Cancer??
Breast Cancer symptoms vary from person to person and warning signs includes….
New lump in the breast or underarm, thickening or swelling of part of the breast, irritation or dimpling of breast skin, pain or pulling in of the nipple area, nipple discharge other than breast milk, any change in the size or shape of the breast and pain in any area of the breast.
How to reduce the risk?
Things which can help to reduce the risk of developing Breast Cancer include:
- Being aware of own breast and checking breasts by yourself at regular interval
- Proactive things that help lower the risk for breast cancer, include: regular exercise achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight, adequate sleep, healthy eating, limited alcohol intake and avoidance of chemicals that can cause cancer.
- Getting at least 30 to 60 minutes or more of moderate to intensity physical activity on most days of the week is important.
- Annual mammograms is one of the best method for early detection of Breast Cancer. A mammogram is a routine screening that helps detect breast cancer earlier than waiting for symptoms to appear. Regular mammograms are recommended for women 40 years of age and older. Those at higher risk for breast cancer, may need to begin regular mammograms sooner. It’s a good idea to talk with your doctor about your risks and the most appropriate time for you to get started with mammograms.
Instead of only one or two options, today there’s an overwhelming menu of treatment choices that fight the complex mix of cells in each individual cancer. The decisions — surgery, then perhaps radiation, hormonal (anti-estrogen) therapy, and/or chemotherapy — can feel overwhelming.
Chemotherapy treatment uses medicine to weaken and destroy cancer cells in the body, including cells at the original cancer site and any cancer cells that may have spread to another part of the body. The side effects of chemotherapy have been greatly reduced with newer medicine and it can be administered without any discomfort to the patient. There are quite a few chemotherapy medicines and most of the times a combination of two or more medicines will be used as chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer.
Chemotherapy is used to treat:
- early-stage invasive breast cancer
- after surgery and to reduce the risk of the cancer coming back
- advanced-stage breast cancer to destroy or damage the cancer cells as much as possible
In some cases, chemotherapy is also given before surgery to shrink the cancer.
With the best treatment the survival of breast cancer patients is more than 90% if detected in the early stages.For those presenting late, the survival has also increased significantly and many patients can live normal life without any symptoms or discomfort.
So don’t be afraid of breast cancer. Lets educate all about the risks, preventive measures and treatment options for breast cancer. It can be cured and therefore always keep your faith bigger than your fear.