Breast Cancer - Signs, Early Detection, and Seeking Timely Care
Breast cancer is a prevalent cancer among women globally and accounts for a significant portion of cancer cases in India.
According to the data from GLOBACON 2020, breast cancer comprised 13.5% of the total cancer cases in India. The World Cancer Report 2020 emphasises that early detection is the most effective intervention for controlling breast cancer.
This article highlights the signs and symptoms of breast cancer, emphasises the importance of early detection, circumstances for mammograms and addresses the deterring factors in seeking early care and breast cancer treatment.
Signs And Symptoms Of Breast Cancer
Painless Lump: The most common symptom of breast cancer is recent onset hard, painless lump in the breast which is unrelated with your menstrual cycle.
Nipple Discharge: Some women may experience blood-stained nipple discharge, with or without a breast lump.
Armpit Lump: A lump in the armpit may be present, with or without a breast lump.
Nipple Changes: Changes in the nipple such as retraction, scaling or crusting over the nipple areola complex.
Skin Dimpling/Tethering: Breast cancer can sometimes present as skin dimpling or tethering, which becomes apparent when raising both hands.
Skin Changes: Small cancerous lumps behind the nipple areola complex may go unnoticed, but overlying skin may show signs of cancerous involvement, such as thickening or hardening.
Spread of Cancer: Breast cancer that spreads beyond the breast can involve neck lymph nodes, leading to a lump or swelling in the neck. It may also cause sudden, severe bone pain if it reaches the bones.
Mammograms should be done based on a doctor's recommendations. A clinical examination by an expert is necessary before undergoing any imaging for breast cancer detection. Depending on the doctor's assessment and the woman's age, appropriate imaging, such as ultrasound or mammography, may be advised.
Latest Surgical Advances In Breast Cancer Management
Breast surgery has advanced from complete removal of the breast (mastectomy) to breast-conserving surgery with oncoplastic procedures. These advancements provide better cosmetic outcomes and early recovery. Women diagnosed with early breast cancer can undergo breast-conserving surgery and resume their routine activities the day after the surgery.
Deterring Factors In Seeking Early Care
Several factors hinder the timely seeking of care for breast cancer in India:
Painless Lump Misconception: Due to the absence of pain in a breast lump, women tend to ignore or delay seeking medical attention.
Lack of Access to Specialists and Facilities: Non-availability of breast experts, diagnostic services, and treatment facilities in the vicinity may deter women from seeking early care.
Cost Concerns: Fear of high costs associated with imaging and treatment acts as a deterrent.
Fear of Death: Fear of the consequences and mortality associated with breast cancer may discourage women from seeking early care.
Social Stigma: Social stigma, isolation and concerns about family reputation may prevent women from focussing on their own health.
Addressing these issues requires prioritising extensive awareness campaigns and, if necessary, providing one-on-one counseling to educate women about breast cancer, dispel misconceptions, and promote early detection and timely care.
Breast cancer rates are rising rapidly, making it crucial to raise awareness about the disease and emphasise the potential for complete cure through early detection and appropriate treatment.
A strong awareness campaign and acknowledging that breast cancer is one of the most common cancer amongst women but completely curable if diagnosed and treated early.
Take charge of your well-being and schedule a thorough breast cancer screening. Book an appointment with Dr. Rucha Kaushik , Consultant - Breast Cancer Surgeon at P. D. Hinduja Hospital and Medical Research Centre, Mahim, Mumbai today. Contact: 022 6766 8181/022 4510 8181
*Information source: Bombay Times