October 25, 2015
World over the month of October is dedicated towards spreading awareness about breast cancer. Considering the number of women who are affected with this disease, there is a growing need to spread the awareness about symptoms, causes and treatment of breast cancer among women. This disease has not spared anyone; middle class, upper middle class and the elite women from developing and developed nations suffer from breast cancer.
Breast cancer knows no age. Spare a thought for 14- year-old schoolgirl Priya (name changed). She was recently diagnosed with a lump in her breast. The biopsy suggested a nodule in breast which was cancerous and had to be treated aggressively.
Dr Guhan P, Director, Sri Ramakrishna Institute of Oncology & Research, Coimbatore says such cases indicate that not only has breast cancer become more rampant in Indian women, it is also today afflicting relatively younger women. This calls for major awareness campaigns that exhort women to stay alert for any changes in their bodies.
“With urbanization and accompanied lifestyle and behavioural changes, we have noticed a steady increase in incidences of breast cancer in India. The most commonly identified are early menstruation, late menopause, delayed age of marriage, or bearing child after the age of 30. Reduced duration of breast feeding is another factor that increases risk of breast cancer. The recent trend of hormone replace therapies has also encouraged the rise in breast cancer incidences. Besides, sedentary lifestyles, lack of physical exercise, habits such as smoking an alcohol also have a negative impact,” says Dr Guhan.
According to estimates of World Health Organization (WHOs) International Agency for Research in Cancer (IARC), an estimated 1,44,937 women in India were detected with breast cancer in 2012. Sadly, 70,218 died of it, making it one death for every two new diagnoses. A decade ago, 24-25 women per lakh were diagnosed with the disease. However, owing to factors such as multi-factorial diet, change in lifestyle and urbanization, the number has increased to 29 women per lakh.
“Awareness has helped America to reduce its breast cancer awareness rate dramatically. More than 70% of women in the US have been able to cure breast cancer through mammography. Such cancers and others that are detected an early stage usually do not require treatments like chemotherapy and radiation, and can be cured through surgery only. However, in India, despite education and literary, women, tend to ignore the occurrences of lumps believing it to be not a sign of cancer. There is a dire need to increase the awareness among women,” says Dr Guhan.