Breast cancer is the most common cancer occurring in females in India and in the world. This is as per the statistics from the GLOBACON 2018 report. It is interesting as well as disturbing to know that this incidence i.e. number of new cases occurring every year is increasing. Also in India, there is a huge disparity between the occurrence in urban and rural areas. The incidence is more in urban countries. This is attributed to the westernization or the urbanization of our society. This in turn is causing an increase in the risk factors for breast cancer.
Breast cancer incidence is more in western/urban females, thus it is also now called a lifestyle disease. Obesity, more consumption of saturated fats, less dietary fibers, late age at marriage, late age at first child, less/no children, no breastfeeding are some of these changes happening that have caused an increase in this disease over years.
Also, the advancements in imaging techniques and the awareness amongst females have caused more cases to be detected. As a result of which, now more cases in the early stage are detected as previously.
The early-stage disease has higher cure rates, with lesser side effects of treatment.
Most of the times breast cancer would develop as a breast lump or mass or swelling, which is painless. This lump may increase in size and spread to the skin and muscle of the breast and also to the underarm/armpit areas. In advanced stages, it may spread to other areas of the body as well.
It is thus recommended for all females above 20 years to examine their breast regularly/monthly and to consult an expert even at the slightest doubt. This is a simple procedure that can be done by all females at home once a month to know if there is anything abnormal in their breasts.
Luckily the answer is NO !!
Most of the time, the lumps are benign or due to some hormonal changes in the breast, but it is always better to consult an expert and let her see that nothing is going wrong in your body. Lumps due to hormonal changes usually increase towards the approach of periods and vanishes after it.
The next step will be an Ultrasound or a Mammography of the breast depending on your age, to know if that swelling/mass/lump is doubting cancer or not.
Screening means the detection of cancer in females even before it has started showing any symptoms. This is recommended by various national and international guidelines to be started at least after the age of 45- 50 years and be done once every 2 years with the help of Mammography. Mammography is nothing but a simple X-Ray of the breasts and can be done on an OPD basis in a few minutes.
As prevention is better than cure, all attempts must be made to prevent this situation.
These include leading a healthy, active lifestyle; eating a well-balanced diet, having good reproductive habits.
Another important point is if there is any family history of breast or any other cancer in your close relatives/siblings/parents, do talk to an expert about the role of genetic screening in your case.
Breast cancer claims the lives of women daily. Having a blood test for breast cancer detection would be wonderful, but it doesn't exist. Although it would be wonderful if we could avert it, it is quite unlikely that we would be able to do so by 2020 or the next few years. On the other hand, a woman may opt for the most effective screening method at the time which at present is breast mammography.
Let your expert oncologist decide what needs to be done after mammography and stay aware and examine yourself regularly.
Dr. Aditi Aggarwal has worked in radiation oncology for ten years, treating patients with thoracic cancer, gastrointestinal cancer, bone and soft tissue cancer, gynecological cancer, breast cancer, and neurological cancers.
As a medical doctor, Dr. Aditi Aggarwal holds an MBBS degree from Lady Hardinge Medical College Delhi, a MD degree in radiation oncology from VMMC and Safdarjang Hospital Delhi, as well as a post-doctoral diploma in cancer research from Catalyst Clinical Sciences in Pune.
Cancer is usually classified into four stages, with stage 0 being the earliest stage and stage IV being the most advanced. The stage of a cancer is an important factor in determining the prognosis and the best treatment options. Here's a brief overview of the different stages of cancer:
Stage 0: This is the earliest stage of cancer, and it refers to cancer that is still in its original place and has not spread to other parts of the body. It is also known as carcinoma in situ.
Stage I: This stage means that the cancer is still small and has not spread to other parts of the body. It may be treatable with surgery or other local treatments.
Stage II: At this stage, the cancer is larger and may have spread to nearby lymph nodes. It may be treated with surgery and/or radiation therapy, or other systemic treatments such as chemotherapy.
Stage III: This stage means that the cancer has spread to nearby tissues or organs and/or to distant lymph nodes. Treatment may involve a combination of surgery, radiation therapy, and/or systemic treatments such as chemotherapy.
Stage IV: This is the most advanced stage of cancer, and it means that the cancer has spread to other parts of the body, such as the liver, lungs, bones, or brain. Treatment at this stage is typically palliative, meaning that it aims to relieve symptoms and improve quality of life, rather than cure the cancer.
It's important to note that the staging of cancer can vary between different types of cancer and different systems used to classify the stages. Your healthcare provider can give you more information specific to your situation.
There is no single vaccine that can prevent or cure all types of cancer. However, some vaccines can help prevent certain viral infections that can increase the risk of certain cancers, such as the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, which can help prevent HPV-related cancers such as cervical, vaginal, vulvar, and anal cancer.
Additionally, some cancers can be treated with a type of immunotherapy called cancer vaccines, which help stimulate the body's own immune system to recognize and attack cancer cells. These vaccines are still in the experimental stage and are only available through clinical trials.
However, there are many things you can do to reduce your risk of developing cancer, such as eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding tobacco products, and getting regular cancer screenings. Your healthcare provider can give you more information on how to reduce your risk of cancer.
The symptoms of cancer can vary depending on the type and part of the body of cancer, as well as its stage. Some common symptoms of cancer include:
It's important to keep in mind that these symptoms can also be caused by other conditions, and not all of them are present in all cases of cancer. If you are experiencing any symptoms that are new or persist for a long time, it's important to talk to your healthcare provider to determine the cause and get appropriate medical attention. Early detection and treatment of cancer can often lead to better outcomes.
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