Breast cancer Be aware be prepared

Dr. Surbhi Kudyar
As the month of October blooms in our calendar it starts with a message of ” GIVE HOPE, SAVE LIFE” as it is marked as the Breast cancer awareness month.
Breast Cancer the dreaded disease has spread its paws in women of all ages. And has become a major problem both in western countries and in India. According to a recent survey, India will record 1,80,000 new cases of breast cancer and approximately 80,000 women will die from this disease in 2020. Stastistics are so sad that every 4 minutes a women is being diagnosed with breast cancer in India, and every 13 minutes we lose a life because of breast cancer in India. Such are the worrisome statistics of this disease in our country.
The Pink Ribbon which we see the whole month of October personifies Breast cancer awareness. The roots and the goals of this awareness month dates back to 1985 where it started as a week long event which was started by Betty Ford who was a Breast cancer survivor and was the wife of then president of United States Gerald Ford, as a partnership between the American Cancer Society and the pharmaceutical division of Imperial Chemical Industries. The early goal of Breast Cancer Awareness Month was to educate women about breast cancer and early detection tests so that they could take charge of their breast health. One of their key goals that they wanted to achieve was to promote mammograms as an important tool to be used in the fight against breast cancer. The first nation-wide campaign that utilized the pink ribbon was back in 1992 by Estée Lauder cosmetics. They handed out an impressive 1.5 million of them and ushered in the pink ribbon as the premier visual reminder of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Risk Factors:
Late marriage, late age of childbirth and little or no breastfeeding
Breast lumps- not all lumps are cancerous but all lumps need evaluation to rule out cancer.
Almost one third of all breast cancer patients are believed to have familial disease pattern, and some 5% are believed to be hereditary, with BRCA1 and BRCA 2 gene mutations having been identifies as the major genetic causes. If someone inherits such a gene, the chances of developing breast cancer are 80% and ovarian cancer is 40% in lifetime.
Dense breast tissue – Women with dense breast tissue have a higher chance of developing breast cancer.
Diet and lifestyle choices: Women who smoke, eat high fat diet, drink alcohol are more at risk of developing breast cancer.
Radiation Exposure: Frequent exposure to X-Rays and CT scans may raise a women’s chance of developing breast cancer.
Obesity: Overweight women are at a higher risk of developing breast cancer.
Oestrogen exposure – factors such as early menarch, late menopause, HRT (Hormone replacement therapy), alcohol, obesity, lack of exercise and stress causes increased oestrogen exposure and increase chances of developing breast cancer.
Women who had undergone IVF therapy for pregnancy also have more tendency to develop breast cancer because of increased exposure to hormones.
Smoking is an important risk factor for developing cancer.
So a healthy stress free lifestyle, timely pregnancy, adequate lactation and abstinence from Tobacco and alcohol are certain measures which can definitely decrease the incidence of Breast cancer.
Signs And Symptoms
A breast lump or thickening that feels different from the surrounding tissue
Change in the size, shape or appearance of a breast
Changes to the skin over the breast, such as dimpling
A newly inverted nipple
Peeling, scaling, crusting or flaking of the pigmented area of skin surrounding the nipple (areola) or breast skin
Redness or pitting of the skin over your breast, like the skin of an orange
Lump can be felt in the axilla (armpit) also.
Tests and procedures used to diagnose breast cancer include:
Breast exam : Breast self Examination is the key to early detection and Prevention.
Mammogram. A mammogram is an X-ray of the breast and are not harmful.
Breast ultrasound: Ultrasound may be used to determine whether a new breast lump is a solid mass or a fluid-filled cyst.
Removing a sample of breast cells for testing (biopsy). A biopsy is the only definitive way to make a diagnosis of breast cancer. During a biopsy, your doctor uses a specialized needle device guided by X-ray or another imaging test to extract a core of tissue from the suspicious area. Biopsy samples are sent to a laboratory for analysis where experts determine whether the cells are cancerous. A biopsy sample is also analyzed to determine the type of cells involved in the breast cancer, the aggressiveness (grade) of the cancer, and whether the cancer cells have hormone receptors or other receptors that may influence your treatment options.
Breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is used with mammography and breast ultrasound, is a useful diagnostic tool. Recent research has found that MRI can locate small breast lesions sometimes missed by mammography. It can also help detect breast cancer in women with breast implants and in younger women who tend to have dense breast tissue. It helps to detect any cancer in the opposite breast, extent of cancer in the breast, number of lumps in each breast.
PET Scan – is done for whole body evaluation for any metastatic disease.
CT- Scan – Abdomen and Chest for metastasis.
Bone scan – For any bony metastasis.
Surgery in operable cases it can be Lumpectomy or Breast conserving surgery where a part of breast tissue is removed, Mastectomy where the whole of breast is removed these methods are adopted depending on the size, site and the extent of the tumor accompanied with Lymph node dissection in the axilla( armpit).
Chemotherapy and Hormonal therapy depending on the receptor status of the patient
Radiation therapy known as brachtherapy.
Palliative care.
NEED OF THE HOUR is awareness about breast examination, beginning from 20 years of age, and regular screening from a breast surgeon, so that it can be detected early and treated successfully.
“Early detection is the key to prevention.”