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Expert Talk: Breast Cancer Rise, Awareness, And Prevention

Literacy and awareness of breast cancer, preventive measures, and screening programmes will help in early detection and treatment. 

Tanya Srivastava
Written by: Tanya SrivastavaPublished at: Aug 22, 2022Updated at: Aug 22, 2022
Expert Talk: Breast Cancer Rise, Awareness, And Prevention

Going through breast cancer diagnosis and treatment is devastating for anyone, it is a time of extreme emotional and physical distress. In an exclusive interaction with OnlyMyHealth editorial team, Dr. Kavita Munjal, Technical Operations Head, MP, Metropolis Healthcare Ltd. explains that breast cancer is the most diagnosed cancer in women in the world and one of the leading causes of cancer death in women.  As per the Globocan data 2020, in India, breast cancer accounted for 13.5% (178361) of all cancer cases and 10.6% (90408) of all deaths. It is estimated that the global burden of breast cancer is expected to cross two million by the year 2030, with growing proportions from developing countries like India.

Breast Cancer Awareness

In the Indian population breast cancer is diagnosed at an advanced stage, generally in stage III or IV of the disease, thus contributing to a high mortality rate among women. Most of the patients opt for healthcare facilities only when there is a large palpable mass or secondary changes like local skin/chest wall changes are visible. This can be attributed to low levels of awareness, stigma surrounding breast cancer, limited access to effective medical treatment, and incomplete treatment regimens.

This is where breast cancer awareness takes a major role. Literacy and awareness of the disease, preventive measures, and screening programmes will help in early detection and treatment. 

The goal of screening examinations for early breast cancer detection is to find cancers before they start to cause symptoms. The initial manifestation is a lump that is generally not associated with pain, which further adds to the delay in seeking treatment. Breast cancers that cause symptoms tend to be relatively larger and likely to have spread beyond the breast. In contrast, breast cancers found during screening examinations are more likely to be small and still confined to the breast.

Women need to be aware of both modifiable and non-modifiable risk factors for breast cancer to adopt appropriate practices for prevention. The various risk factors associated with breast cancer include:

  • A family history of a mother or sister who had breast cancer carries a higher risk in the female of developing this disease.
  • Women with dense breast tissue or a history of any lump in the breast have a higher chance of developing breast cancer.
  • The risk increases with an increase in age.
  • Diet and lifestyle choices like smoking, eating a high-fat diet, and drinking alcohol induce the risk.
  • Obese and overweight women are likely to be at a higher risk rate.
  • A longer oestrogen exposure due to the start of periods early or entering menopause later than usual increases the risk.
Breast Cancer Raise Awareness And Prevention

Prevention from breast cancer

Research shows that switching to a healthy lifestyle can reduce the risk, even for women who are more likely to develop the disease. Following are the ways:

  • It is important to self-examine your breasts and look for signs, like change in size or shape of the breast, or any formation of a lump, nipple discharge, inverted (pulled in) nipple, or a node in the armpit.
  • Do not ignore any lump or node, if you discover any, immediately consult the doctor.
  • It is advisable for all women who are around 40 or above to get their mammography done. Mammography is a simple radiographic technique that helps in detecting irregularities in the breast tissues.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight by following a healthy diet & lifestyle including vegetables and fruits, physical activity, and even mental well-being somehow contributes to the reduction of the risk.
  • For new mothers, it is advisable to breastfeed their child at least for one year as it has a protective effect.
  • Do not smoke or drink alcohol in excess.
  • Limit postmenopausal hormone therapy as combination hormone therapy may increase the risk.

 

The three pillars toward achieving the objective of lessening the incidence of breast cancer are health promotion for early detection, timely diagnosis, and comprehensive breast cancer management. So let us be more vigilant and create awareness about breast cancer to further live & lead a healthy life and let our health carelessness not deplete our physical and emotional well-being instead help us save this pair of divinity.

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