Dr T P S Bhandari, Breast Oncoplastic Surgeon, Apollo Cancer Institute, Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad, has said that early detection is critical in treating breast cancer as it can increase the survival rate of affected woman.
Early detection can be enabled by performing breast self-examination (BSE) from the age of 30 years, every month immediately a week after the menses stop and clinical breast examination (CBE) once in a year or 3 years by an oncologist / physician. Screening with a mammogram from the age of 40 years can also detect it.
Speaking at a public awareness program on breast cancer in Hyderabad, Dr Bhandari pointed out that treating early stage disease will significantly improve chances of recovery. In stage 1 with up to 2 cm tumor, the survival is 100%. However, in stage 4 with the disease spreading to other organs, the survival is 22%.
Signs and symptoms of breast cancer include lump in the breast, any change in the breast or nipple appearance, unexplained change in shape or size of the breast - shrinkage or swelling of the breast, especially on one side, and recent unevenness of the breasts.
Dr Bhandari said that overall, 1 in 28 women are likely to develop breast cancer during their lifetime. The incidence is high in urban areas, with 1 in 22 women likely to develop breast cancer during their lifetime as compared to rural areas where 1 in 60 women develop breast cancer in their lifetime.
“The incidence has been on the rise over the past few years, as against the 1,15,251 cases detected in 2008, 1,62,468 cases were found in 2018,” he informed.
Breast Cancer has two types of risk factors. The non-modifiable risk factors are age, gender, genetic factors and family history of cancer. Risk factors which can be modified with lifestyle changes are obesity, pregnancy, lactation and avoiding alcohol consumption. However, having a risk factor is no indication of one definitely developing breast cancer.
Lifestyle modifications that can be adopted to prevent breast cancer are regular exercise, maintaining ideal body weight, quitting smoking, avoiding excessive alcohol consumption and breast-feeding.