Let us have a look at the actual scenario of the problem of breast cancer in our country. The problem is definitely on the rise. In this article, lets understand the high risk factors, detection, diagnosis, treatment facilities along with screening facilities. It is also important that women are aware about it to help tackle the problem at our end. Unlike other cancers, breast cancer if detected early is curable.
- In India, 50 % patients are pre- menopausal
- Breast cancer constitutes more than 30 % cancers in females.
- More common in women of younger age group <45years of age.
Damage to the DNA and genetic mutations can lead to breast cancer.
Defects in the DNA and genes like the BRCA1, BRCA2 and P53
The immune system normally destroys these cancer cells. Breast cancer may be a result of failure of an effective immune defence.
The signalling systems of growth factors and other mediators that interact between stromal cells and epithelial cells. Disruption of these may also cause breast cancer.
What are the risk factors ?
- Greater urbanization and lifestyle changes.
- Obesity or higher body weight.
- Single women had a 4-5-fold higher risk in the age group of 40 and above
- Nulliparous women show a higher risk than parous women.
- Westernised diet
- Late childbirth
- Positive family history of cancer
- Earlier onset of menarche
- Lack of breast feeding practices
- Late onset of menopause
- Long term use of hormonal replacement therapy
- Use of oral contraceptives
- Alcohol consumption
- Late age at first child birth
Factors that reduce risk of breast cancer-
- Breast feeding
- Physical activity
- Healthy diet
- Lump in the breast
- Pain / soreness / tenderness
- Changes in size/ appearance
- Lump in the armpit
Detection diagnosis and treatment-
Breast cancer can be detected at earlier stages by simple breast examination. Breast cancer is treated using 3 main modalities: surgery, systemic therapy and radiotherapy.
Screening possible cancer-
Every-5-year, biennial, and annual screening for women aged 40-60 should be done. This will cause considerable reductions in mortality.
Cancer screening programs involving imaging. Health education and clinical breast examination (CBE) provided by trained primary health care workers to women seems effective in early diagnosis.
Awareness of cancer-
In developing countries lack of public awareness leads to late diagnosis and poor prognosis. Usually patients ignore their symptoms till a very late stage. Only 30-40% of the women are aware about the term self examination. It should be performed once a month. For those women who menstruate, a week from the start of periods and for those women who do not menstruate a fixed date every month.
To conclude, a lot of cases can be detected early with awareness. High risk women should have themselves screened frequently. Women post 25 years of age should engage themselves in the practice of self examination. It is important that we stay aware to help reduce the burden of the problem.