RISING BURDEN IN INDIAN WOMEN: Breast cancer affects about 2.1 million women worldwide and is recognised as a leading cause of cancer-related death in women. In India, 1 in 22 women are at risk of developing breast cancer during their lifetime, and it accounts for 25%-30% of all female cancers in metro cities. Some of the key factors contributing to the increased incidence of breast cancer over the last few decades include delayed childbearing, failure to breastfeed, assisted fertility treatment, oral contraceptives, hormone replacement therapy, rise in obesity rates, smoking and alcohol consumption. As compared to the western population, breast cancer strikes a decade earlier in Indian women, 48% of them being more than 50 years of age.
EARLY DIAGNOSIS: ROUTE TO POSITIVE PROGNOSIS
- When breast cancer is detected early, i.e., when the tumour is in the localized stage, there is a 5-year the relative survival rate of 99%, as stated by the American Cancer Society. The most common symptoms include hard, painless lumps in the breast or armpit, changes in size, skin or nipple of the breast and abnormal discharge from the nipple.
- “It is important to get your breast examined by a qualified medical practitioner once in every three years once you reach your 30s and yearly once from age 40 years. A doctor is trained to pick up even small lumps, enabling early diagnosis. Women above forty years of age should undergo a mammography every 1 to 2 years, especially those with a strong family history.” Dr Rupa Ananthasivan, Consultant, Radiology from Manipal Hospitals.
Also Read: Second Opinion Is Best For Breast Cancer
The steps for having breast self-exams are:
- Put your hands on the hips and examine your breast in the mirror. Look for any distortion, colour change, or swelling on the breasts. If you have inverted nipples, skin bulging, or soreness, consult with your doctor.
- Raise your arms and look for any change in breast size, shape, distortion, or swelling. Pay attention to any fluid coming from the nipples.
- Lie down and analyze your breast with your fingers. Use left-hand fingers to research the right breast and vice-versa. You may use the circular approach or the vertical approach to feel the complete breast tissues.
- Sit or stand and repeat the analysis of breast tissues with your fingers.
BREAST CANCER SCREENING-ROLE OF MAMMOGRAPHY
- About 60% of the Indian women are diagnosed at an advanced stage, a fundamental cause of high mortality rates in India. Lack of awareness and no organised screening process results in most cancers being detected at later stages with poorer prognosis. Studies have proven that breast cancer screening through mammography can reduce the risk of death up to 30%-40%. During mammography, low dose X-rays of the breast tissue are taken for evaluating breast tissue. The critical advantage of screening mammography is that it detects breast cancer much earlier than the onset of signs and symptoms.
- “Establishing a faster diagnosis is associated with better treatment options, lower risk of treatment-related side-effects, increased survival rates and a better quality of life. Advances in technology such as 3D mammography and contrast-enhanced mammography done at Manipal Hospitals enables improved diagnostic accuracy, reduced need for recall imaging and patient discomfort. Advancement in breast cancer treatment mas made it possible to cure breast cancer if detected at an early stage completely.” Dr Shilpa P Ramchandra, Consultant, Radiology from Manipal Hospitals.
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