Identify Breast Cancer in the Early Stage to Improve Chances of Survival
Breast cancer is probably the most widespread form of cancer which women are likelier to be susceptible to, especially in India, where as many as 14 percent of all identified cases are of breast cancer. Therefore, ladies should be alert from their adolescence as it helps to establish a bench line from which you will notice any deviations, or changes which you should bring to your doctor’s notice. If identified in the first stage itself, this form of cancer has an excellent prognosis, with patients surviving to even thirty years, and more. However, some men develop breast cancer too, which normally proves fatal. Read on to learn the causes and symptoms which will enable you to identify it early should breast cancer strike.
What Is Cancer?
It is vital to understand that cancer is an umbrella term used for a range of diseases listed in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD). It refers to the abnormal multiplication or division of cells in a specified area, which do not die according to the normal life cycle of cells, but invade nearby tissues. Such uncontrolled proliferation of cells usually leads to the growth of lumps classified as tumors. However, remember that not all tumors are malignant or cancerous. Some are benign, but need to be monitored over time to ensure an early diagnosis of when they turn cancerous. Not all cancers are tumors, as in blood cancer or lymphomas. The biggest challenge that oncologists face are with mutated and dysfunctional cells invading other parts of the body, the technical term for it being metastasis. Cancers of the pancreas, liver, and lung have the lowest survival rates.
This Is a War That Can Be Won –
According to Cancerindia.org, in India alone, 1,62,468 new cases, and 87,090 deaths were reported for breast cancer in 2018. However, it is vital to understand that all figures — official or otherwise — should be not taken as anything except indicative for two reasons. The first is that, many women don’t seek medical advice, let alone treatment, for breast cancer for fear of the social stigma attaching it; especially when there are daughters of marriageable age. The second is that the lack of breast cancer awareness makes many ladies, especially in the rural parts of the country, not realize that they have breast cancer till it is too late. Most symptoms get brushed aside as being self-limiting, or simply being an allergy. Yet, timely identification, and appropriate treatment can save numerous lives.
Analysis of Some of the Usual Causes –
Some of the causes of breast cancer are similar to any other kind of cancer. For example, the genetic factor plays a major role in predicting the chances of any lady of developing breast cancer. If either grandmother, your mother, her sisters, or even your father’s sisters had breast cancer; you should remain alert from your twenties as there could be inherited mutations in the genes BRCA1 and BRCA2. Some other factors include obesity as very dense breasts prevent even a mammogram from picking up any lumps which might be forming till it is quite late. Your diet could be an indicator as heavily meat dependent diets have been known to become carcinogenic. If your age is between 40 and 50, then you are at higher risk. Also, the age when you began menstruating (before turning 13), or if you became menopausal at a later age — either or both can increase your chances of getting breast cancer.
Look out for these factors too –
Not breast feeding the children, or short lactation period; never having borne children, having the first child after 35, or too many pregnancies; regular intake of contraceptive pills, and hormonal imbalances after menopause, especially if you needed to undergo hormone replacement therapy (HRT) — these are some of the other factors which can cause breast cancer. Lifestyle factors like inadequate exercise, alcohol abuse, use of atomized deodorants or talcum powder underarm and under the breasts, smoking, and unnecessary exposure to radiation put you at risk.
Symptoms of Breast Cancer –
During childbearing years, it isn’t unusual for there to be clear or whitish, milky discharge from both breasts. You need to worry, if you also feel a mass, the discharge is spontaneous, is brownish or bloody, or is from only one breast. There could be benign growths in the milk producing ducts called intraductal papillomas. However, you need to watch out for more than just lumps in either breast, under them, or in the armpits. If you note any changes in the look or feel of the breasts such as sudden wrinkling, or dimpling of the skin, increase in their weight; a change in the look or feel of the nipple — thickening of the skin, darkening, or the aureoles getting bigger, turning inwards — and/or persistent rashes; pain in the breast or nipples which refuses to go away; rush to your doctor immediately to get a physical exam, followed by a screening.
Save Yourself and Your Family Sleepless Nights-
Ironically, in India survival rates for breast cancer are way below comparable rates in Europe and the USA despite having some of the finest oncologists. This is partly due to late detection, or no detection, which compromises the prognosis and successful treatment. If you have any doubts, or have been diagnosed as having breast cancer; consult the oncologists at the Asian Institute of Medical Sciences for caring treatment.
Content Reviewed by – Asian Hospital Medical Editors