One sunny afternoon my mum sat me down, generally, it was that time of year when she used to leave for her job in the USA after our summer vacation, so being 11 years old I had mixed feelings nostalgia, anger and a part of me wanted her to stay with me at home.Apparently, my mum told me that she won't leave this time.I was super happy.
But my world came crashing down when she told me she has a stage 2 breast cancer that needs an immediate treatment.Needless to I went through an ordeal of attending various counselling, thought of a life without her and on the day of her surgery, boy I prayed to every god I knew about.Mum came home finally, fragile and scarred for life.
What is breast cancer?
Cancer that starts in the breast is called breast cancer.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in India and accounts for 27% of all cancers in women.
New cases registered: 1,44,937
The incidence rates in India begin to rise in the early thirties and peak at ages 50-64 years.
Overall, 1 in 28 women is likely to develop breast cancer during her lifetime.
In urban areas, 1 in 22 women develops breast cancer during her lifetime as compared to rural areas where 1 in 60 women develops breast cancer in her lifetime.
What are the signs and symptoms of breast cancer?
Your breasts can change with age and at different times of the month. It’s important to get to know how your breasts normally look and feel so it will be easier to spot if there are any unusual changes for you.
If you do spot any unusual changes to your breasts you should get them checked out by your doctor.
Finding out about breast cancer signs and symptoms can help you understand what breast changes to look out for.
Lumps are vital to look out for, and for many women the first sign or symptom of breast cancer is a lump in their breast. But many women have breast lumps and most of them are benign (not cancerous), and there are other important signs and symptoms too.
Changes to check for-
Lump - can be felt not seen.
Can you feel a lump?
Either in the breast, upper chest or armpit?
Is there a lumpy area? Or unusual thickening of the breast tissue there.Is there any unusual pain?
Either in part of the breast or the armpit.
Skin texture e.g. dimpling or puckering
Any change in size or shape?
For example, one breast might become larger or lower than the other.
Any change in colour?
E.g. the breast may look red or inflamed.
Any change in skin texture?
Such as puckering or dimpling of the skin of the breast.
Appearance or direction of the nipple
What about the appearance or the direction of the nipple?
E.g. one might become inverted (turned in) when it normally points out.
Any unusual discharge?
One or both nipples might have a discharge.
Rash or crusting
Any rash or crusting of the nipple or surrounding area.
Lack of awareness of breast cancer, lack of screening
Breast cancer is a non-existent entity for a majority of the population until a near and dear one suffers from it. Healthcare is low on priority and even in major cities, screening is also an 'alien' word for most people. So naturally, this results in most people presenting only when symptomatic, and on an average, most 'symptomatic' cancers are stage 2B and beyond (significant numbers in stages 3 and 4).
So the breast cancer patients do not tend to survive for a longer time, as their western counterparts.
In the West, the majority of breast cancers (read more than 75%) present in stages 1 and 2, resulting in good survival; and there is an ever-increasing numbers of patients presenting with mammography detected cancer, with no symptoms. India needs to reach this achievement, and it is only with aggressive promotion of screening and awareness and proper treatment that India will achieve this; and will take at least a few decades to reproduce similar results.( http://www.breastcancerindia.net/statistics/trends.html )
Cancer in young age
The increasing number of young people is alarming.Cancers in the young, tend to be more aggressive (Most, but not all). Many of these cancers are HER2 positive and ER/PR negative, or HER2/ER/PR all three negative, and they have a worse prognosis than those who have ER/PR positive tumours. So all the more reason to catch these cancers early, since chances of long survival decrease fast with increasing stage of these tumours.
----HER2 (human epidermal growth factor receptor 2) is one such gene that can play a role in the development of breast cancer.
-----ER/PR-Estrogen Receptor /Progesterone Receptor
IT IS AS SIMPLE AS LTC-
TOUCH your breasts. Can you feel anything unusual?
LOOK for changes. Is there any change in shape or texture?
CHECK anything unusual with your doctor.
If you keep monitoring your breast of changes there is a possibility of getting it detected in a very early stage , can save so many lives.
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