Breast Cancer: Things that a woman should be aware of

November 12, 2021 6:45 PM

In India, - breast cancer is the most common cause of cancer in women and the second most common cause of cancer-related deaths in women.

Digital mammography with tomo synthesis is the advanced breast X-ray diagnostic tool used by breast surgeons to detect early breast cancerDigital mammography with tomo synthesis is the advanced breast X-ray diagnostic tool used by breast surgeons to detect early breast cancer

By Dr. Rucha Kaushik,

Pandemic has affected each one of us at some or other way. It’s been more than one and half years that we all are struggling and coping with the situation and trying to maintain our health. During lockdown and COVID times people delayed the annual health checkups and avoided visiting hospitals for non-acute emergencies. A painless breast lump is one such condition where most women avoided or delayed medical help during a pandemic which has affected their disease prognosis. Not all lumps in the breast are cancerous one must get it checked with breast specialist. In India, – breast cancer is the most common cause of cancer in women and the second most common cause of cancer-related deaths in women. Every 1 in 28 women is at risk of getting -breast cancer.

What are all risk factors women should be aware of?

  1. As your age increases, your risk of getting breast cancer increases, so women should get themselves checked by a breast specialist every year after the age of 40
  2. Obesity increases the risk of getting breast cancer in future, so maintaining a healthy weight for your height and doing regular 45 mins exercise 5 times a week is essential to the risk
  3. An unhealthy lifestyle and unsupervised hormone treatment increase your risk of getting breast cancer.
  4. Women who do not have children before the age of 30 and who don’t breastfeed their babies at all will be at higher risk.

Why early detection is the key?

Warning signs and symptoms such as recent onset hard painless lump in the breast, any change in the shape of the breast, blood-stained discharge from the nipple or lump in the armpit one must visit breast surgeon at the earliest and get yourself checked as early detection saves life

What is mammography and who should get it done?

Digital mammography with tomo synthesis is the advanced breast X-ray diagnostic tool used by breast surgeons to detect early breast cancer. Depending on the woman’s age, the test is advised. However, not all women need mammography. In addition, Mammography is incomplete without sonography of the breast.

As per US PREVENTIVE STUDY AND TASK FORCE, all women above 50 years of age should undergo mammography biennial that’s once in 2 years till the age of 74. If a woman has any high-risk factors, then she should get a clinical check-up with breast surgeon every year after the age of 25 and should not get mammography done without a doctor’s advice

How the treatment of breast cancer does depends on the stage of cancer?

Early breast cancers have a better chance of cure with treatment. In advanced breast cancer, the treatment is given for control of the disease than cure in the form of chemotherapy, targeted therapy, palliative radiation therapy and or hormone therapy.

In all early breast cancer patients, the first line of treatment is surgery. Surgery in the form of breast saving without removal of the breast and for few patients when we don’t have an option but to remove whole breast immediate reconstructive procedure done, no patient needs to walk with flat chest after surgery and they can start their regular a routine as soon as possible.

As early detection gives a complete chance of cure from cancer. About 5 to 10% of breast cancers are hereditary associated with a genetic mutation, that needs genetic counselling and close follow up but it is not necessary that woman will get cancer if she has a family history of breast and or ovarian cancer in her blood related family member

(The author is Consultant Breast Cancer Surgeon at P.D Hinduja Hospital & MRC. The article is for informational purposes only. Please consult medical experts and health professionals before starting any therapy, medication and/or remedy. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the Financial Express Online.)

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