By Dr Meghal Sanghvi
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, one in eight women especially in urban areas suffer from this disease but it’s also one of the preventable, very easily screen detectable cancer with very high cure rates and with loads of treatment options to give patients longevity in life & a good quality life as all every woman wants is to live with confidence & dignity
Though increasing age & family history of breast cancer are risk factors which cannot be altered & are non-preventable. But factors like conceiving before age of 30, breast feeding babies for at least 6 months, avoiding very long-term continuous hormone therapy, avoiding smoking and alcohol, & maintaining a healthy lifestyle to avoid obesity all directly or indirectly act in preventing the occurrence of breast cancer.
Breast cancer is also very easy to detect if one follows the trial of self-breast examination monthly above age of 25 year and mammography every 12-18 months along with clinical breast examination by trained personnel.
One must be aware of signs and symptoms of breast cancer like
- Painless breast lump,
- Inequality in size and contour of breasts as compared to before,
- Thickening of skin over breast & blood-stained nipple discharge
All of the above signs shod not be neglected & should prompt one to approach a doctor immediately. If one plays safe by following the above protocols one can not only detect breast cancer in early stages but also prevent it.
In patients with breast cancer, treatment options or modalities typically include surgery, specifically breast conservation surgery. This type of surgery is indicated in most patients, as it is associated with good outcomes and low risk of complications. In some cases, however, other types of surgery may be recommended, depending on the individual patient’s situation. chemotherapy which also can be avoided in select few eligible patients, radiation therapy which has advanced such that only the focused part is radiated thereby leading to lesser side effects to surrounding organs, immunotherapy/ targeted therapy & hormone therapy which have negligible side effects & prevent the recurrence or coming back of the disease.
Early detection will lead to following advantages
1) Better cure rates & almost normal longevity of life
2) All modalities of treatment may not be required thereby reducing the duration of treatment
3) Reduced cost of treatment & economic burden on the family
When a woman who is the backbone of the family is diagnosed with breast cancer, the whole family is filled with emotion. This can include a range of feelings from sadness to worry. The family may feel helpless and unsure of what to do next. However, it is important to remember that the family can be a source of support for the woman during this difficult time. by working together, they can provide her with the love and care she needs to fight this disease. This October, the Breast cancer Awareness month let us all spread awareness & pledge to keep our Women Healthy & Safe. A Healthy Cancer free woman makes for a bright future & pride of not just every family but the entire nation.
The writer is Surgical Oncologist at SRV Hospital Chembur