Insight into breast cancer
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women and accounts for 25-30% of cancer cases among women. In year 2016, about 1.5 lac new breast cancer cases were detected in India. Most alarming fact is the rising incidence of breast cancer among younger women. Data has shown that around 45% of breast cancer cases have been diagnosed in women who are less than 50 years old.
Previously breast cancer was considered a cancer of western or developed countries; however, that no longer holds true. There are certain factors which have changed over a period of time and have predisposed women to increase breast cancer risk. Lack of childbirth or late pregnancy, lack of breast feeding, hormonal pills in elderly woman, obesity and family history of breast cancer are risk factors which put women at a higher risk of breast cancer. Women especially after 40 years or with any of these risk factors should do a monthly self-breast examination (4th or 5th day of periods is the best day to do self-breast examination) to look for any lump in breast, nipple discharge or inversion, redness or ulcer over breast skin, as these can be early symptoms of breast cancer.
Any woman who experiences these symptoms should be evaluated and proper treatment has to be initiated early for the best outcome. In majority of these cases multimodality treatment (Surgery, Chemotherapy, Radiotherapy, Hormonal therapy or Targeted therapy etc.) is the standard of care, however treatment has to be tailored according to stage and other factors.
Partial breast removal (or breast conservative surgery) with or without oncoplastic breast reconstruction is a viable option especially in early breast cancer. Newer drugs for chemotherapy and better radiotherapy techniques have made the treatment much safer with a better outcome. Like, early detection is the key for best outcome for any cancer, same holds true for breast cancer also. Again, women especially after 40 years of age should do monthly self-breast examination, regular clinical examination by a breast expert and if possible yearly mammography. Other simple preventive methods include, eating healthy, staying fit, avoiding obesity and using hormonal pills with caution (especially in elderly women).