Early detection can ensure cure

Breast cancer month

Early detection  can ensure cure

Breast cancer has been the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women and the numbers are steadily rising too. The risk of getting breast cancer increases with growing age and there are numerous factors that carry possibilities of influencing the breast cancer risk. And often, women who develop breast cancer do not have any known factors or history in their families.

Also, there may not be any proven way to completely prevent this disease, but there are definitely certain ways to cut down the risk.

Says Dr J B Sharma, senior consultant, Medical Oncology, Delhi-based Action Cancer Hospital, “Whether it is men or women, breast cancer prevention begins with embracing healthy habits like maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, avoiding or limiting alcohol intake and smoking, avoiding exposure to cancer causing chemicals like carcinogens and reduce any sort of exposure to radiation during medical tests like mammograms, X-rays, CT scans, and PET scans.”

He says natural sunlight is a perfect way of increasing stores of Vitamin D in the body that “helps lowering the risk of breast cancer through the conversion of Vitamin D to a hormone that has anti-cancer properties.”

Being tagged as the most commonly diagnosed disease in India, breast cancer ranks second to cervical cancer. Certainly there are ways to reduce its risks but it is not possible to completely eliminate them. Thus, one needs to stay vigilant about breast cancer detection because those noticeable changes in your breast might be an indication demanding serious attention.

Dr Siddharth Sahni, senior consultant, oncology, Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, says, “Although awareness in women has increased in the recent past, but still it is not even one-tenth of the population which needs to know about this disease. One needs to know that 90-95 per cent of the breast cancer happens to those who do not have any cancer history.”

He advises two things to all the women – first is the ‘breast self-awareness’. “This simply means finding a lump in the breast on their own.” But this he says has only 20-25 per cent success rate. So, “we suggest that every month after their menstruation cycle is over, while taking a shower women should look at their body and see if there is any sort of change. And secondly, every woman should get a mammogram done, which is a specialised X-ray of the breasts. Also, it is mandatory for every woman who is 40-plus to go for a mammogram. While one cannot prevent this disease, but, early detection can lead to 100 per cent cure.”

​​Dr Amit Bhargava, another senior consultant, Medical Oncology, Batra Hospital and Medical Research Centre, said that people always associate alcohol with fertility issues but nobody ever thought about the link of alcohol with breast cancer.

“Alcohol consumption increase the risks for many diseases and one of them is breast cancer. The increased risk is due to the fact that alcohol breaks down into a substance called acetaldehyde, which causes genetic mutations and triggers a response from the body leading to the development of cancerous cells. Alcohol also increases the production of a female hormone called estrogen. And the high circulation level of this hormone helps the cancer cell multiply which may result in breast cancer.”

Experts have cautioned that by 2015, breast cancer is going to hit 2.5 lakh women in India, Dr Bhargava informed.

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