Breast cancer is the most common cancers affecting women worldwide. It constitutes nearly a quarter (25%) of all female cancers. There has been a significant increase in the incidence and mortality of breast cancer in India. More than 1,00,000 new cases of breast cancer are diagnosed every year in India. And on an average, for every two women newly diagnosed with breast cancer, one dies. Previously, cervical cancer was most common cancer in Indian woman but now the incidence of breast cancer has outnumbered cervical cancer and is leading cause of death in women due to cancer. The incidence of breast cancer is more in the early thirties and at ages 50-64 years. It is estimated that 1 in 28 women is likely to develop breast cancer during her lifetime.
Reasons for increasing trends of Breast Cancer:
There have been changing trends that have been mainly responsible for the increasing trends in Breast Cancer. The main reasons are:
Delay in the age of marriage
Delayed age of first childbirth
Little or no breastfeeding due to changing social values and the demands of jobs on working women.
Nulliparity and increasing age at first childbirth are other important risk factors.
Those with a family history of breast cancer are at increased risk. However, the majority of the women diagnosed with breast cancer have no family history of the disease and are not considered at high risk.
Unhealthy lifestyle – Other major risk factors like obesity, alcohol consumption, smoking, tobacco chewing, lack of physical activity, diet, environmental factors are also leading to its increasing incidence.
Awareness – Another important reason for the increased incidence is the lack of awareness about the screening of the same; more than 50% patients of breast cancer present in advanced stages when a tumour has already spread and the outcome is not as good as earlier stages.
Thus a multidisciplinary approach which includes awareness and screening programs for early detection and availability of treatment facilities are essential for decreasing the incidence as well as the mortality of breast cancer in Indian women.