It is predicted that 155,800 Indian women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015 alone. Cervical cancer was most common cancer in India almost for last four decades or more but since last 10 years Breast cancer is steadily increasing and now is the most common cancer in women in India.
Age adjusted ratio for breast cancer is 1 in 28 in urban India and 1 in 60 in rural India.
India is experiencing a tremendous rise in Breast cancer across all age group but more in age group more than 50.
The exact cause of breast cancer is still not known. But there are various modifiable and nonmodifiable risk factors which everyone should be aware of.
So what are they?
Nonmodifiable risk factor (Not in our hand)
- Being a lady puts you at risk for having cancer does not mean that males are spared but its rare (1%)
- Increasing age
- Hereditary /Familial- About 5% of breast cancers are hereditary i.e. through gene transmitted either from father or mother. If women has mother/sister who has suffered from breast cancer her risk of having breast cancer increases 3 fold.
- Early age of onset of menstrual cycle/late age of menopause add to the risk to some extent.
Modifiable Risk factors (in our hand)
- Late age at first child birth (more than 30 years of age)
- Less number of children
- Not breast feeding or breast feeding for shorter duration
The chances of cure in women with breast cancer is related with early detection. Breast cancer is immensely curable if it is detected early.
There are three ways of detecting it early by clinical examination by breast specialist, mammography and by self-examination. It has been seen that if clinical examination by a skilled breast surgeon done properly it may be as effective as mammography.
Many women have breast pain before start of their menstrual cycle which is usually due to hormonal imbalance and rarely related with cancer and can be managed with analgesics.
Many young women have lumpy breast or mobile painless lumps usually called as fibroadenosis and fibro adenoma .Again these are not precursor for cancer.
What are the symptoms and signs of breast cancer?
- Painless hard lump in breast or under the arm
- Unilateral blood stained nipple discharge
- Unilateral nipple retraction or ulceration over the nipple.
- Skin over the breast is thickened, hardened
In case of any lump in the breast you must visit the specialist doctor as early detection of cancer impact the overall survival i.e. breast cancer is immensely curable if detected early.
What you should know once cancer is diagnosed?
- Stage of the disease
- Treatment options available
- Tumour sensitivity
Breast cancer arises from lining of milk duct and slowly increases to form a lump in breast. If detected early breast can be saved by doing excision of the lump and armpit gland evaluation. This treatment is followed by radiotherapy to the breast. Radiotherapy is giving radiation to the conserved breast as well as to tumour bed from where tumour has been excised. Radiotherapy is mandatory after breast saving surgery. Chemotherapy is usually given after surgery to kill circulating tumour cells roaming into your circulation.
In few cases where tumour is big and restricted to breast and armpit but not feasible for surgery ,chemotherapy can be given prior to surgery to reduce the size of tumor.If your tumour is sensitive to hormones then after completion of chemotherapy antihormone therapy is given which is in the form of tablets to be taken daily for 5 to 10 years.
Once breast cancer spreads to other organ disease is usually incurable and only palliative and supportive treatment is offered to the patient.
Early detection is best method of prevention