Bhubaneswar, Oct 27: Breast cancer is a significant public health issue in India, affecting a large number of women each year. It is the most common cancer among Indian women, and its incidence has been steadily increasing over the years. This article explores the current scenario of breast cancer in India, its causes, symptoms, early detection, and the treatments helpful in managing this disease.
Breast cancer has been on the rise in India, and it has become the leading cancer among women. According to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), it is estimated that there were over 180,000 new cases of breast cancer in India in 2020 alone. With being the most common type of cancer in women, breast cancer accounts for 14% of cancers in Indian women. The reasons for this increasing trend are multifactorial and include lifestyle changes, environmental factors, and genetic predisposition.
As per Dr. Sujata Kar, Obstetrician and Gynecologist in Bhubaneswar, let's know the causes, symptoms and treatment of the breast cancer:
Causes of Breast Cancer:
Genetic Factors: Some breast cancer cases in India are linked to genetic factors. Women with a family history of breast cancer are at a higher risk.
Hormonal Factors: Hormonal changes, including early onset of menstruation, late menopause, and the use of hormonal contraceptives, can influence breast cancer risk.
Lifestyle Factors: An unhealthy lifestyle, characterized by high alcohol consumption, lack of physical activity, and obesity, can increase the risk of breast cancer.
Environmental Factors: Exposure to environmental pollutants and radiation can contribute to breast cancer development.
Symptoms of Breast Cancer one should look out for:
Lump or Mass: The most common symptom is a painless lump or mass in the breast.
Changes in Breast Appearance: Changes in breast size, shape, or skin texture, along with nipple discharge or inversion, should be noted.
Pain: Breast pain or discomfort is not always a sign of breast cancer, but it should be investigated if persistent.
Enlargement: Swollen lymph nodes in the armpit or collarbone area may indicate the spread of cancer.
Early detection plays a crucial role in improving breast cancer outcomes. Common methods for breast cancer detection include:
Breast Self-Exams: Women between the age of 20-39 years are encouraged to perform regular self-exams to check for lumps or changes in breast size or shape or abnormal discharge.
Clinical Breast Examinations: Regular check-ups by a healthcare provider, where they examine the breasts for abnormalities. Women between the age of 40 to 49 should go for clinical examinations and ultrasounds every 1-2 years.
Mammograms: X-ray images of the breast tissue that can reveal tumours that are too small to feel. It can be done on a 2 yearly basis. Mammograms are suggested for women at high risk
Biopsy: If an abnormality is detected, a biopsy is performed to determine whether it is cancerous.
The treatment plan for breast cancer depends on various factors, including the type and stage of cancer, as well as the patient's overall health. Common treatment options include:
Surgery: The primary treatment for most breast cancer cases involves removing the tumor and, in some cases, the entire breast (mastectomy). Breast-conserving surgery, such as lumpectomy, is also an option.
Radiation Therapy: Radiation is often used after surgery to kill any remaining cancer cells and reduce the risk of recurrence.
Chemotherapy: Medications are administered to kill cancer cells or stop their growth. Chemotherapy can be used before or after surgery.
Hormone Therapy: Some breast cancers are hormone receptor-positive, meaning they depend on hormones like estrogen to grow. Hormone therapy aims to block these hormones or their effects.
Targeted Therapy: Targeted drugs are used to target specific molecules involved in cancer growth. They are often used in combination with other treatments.
Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy drugs stimulate the immune system to attack cancer cells.
Breast cancer is a complex disease with various risk factors, detection methods, and treatment options. Regular screening and early detection significantly increase the chances of successful treatment and recovery. It's essential for individuals to be aware of their risk factors and take proactive steps, such as regular check-ups and screenings, to maintain breast health and detect any abnormalities early. Advances in research and medical technology continue to improve breast cancer diagnosis and treatment,offering hope to those affected by this disease.