What is Breast Cancer?

Breast cancer is characterized by the uncontrolled growth of cells, which results in the formation of cancer within the breast. It is one of the treatable forms of cancers. If not detected and treated early, it can be a life-threatening disease as it can also spread to other parts of the body. 

Breast cancer affects women both in the developed and the developing world. As per WHO, breast cancer accounts for 2.09 million cases and 627000 deaths globally. It is the most common cancer in women in India and accounts for 14% of all cancers in women. It can occur at any age but the incidence rates in India begin to rise in the early thirties and peak at ages 50-64 years.

Risk Factors:
 

  • Family History: Women whose mother or sister had breast cancer carry a higher risk of developing this disease.

  • Breast lumps- Women who have had some type of breast lumps which require biopsy earlier are more likely to develop breast cancer later on.

  • Dense breast tissue - Women with dense breast tissue have a higher chance of developing breast cancer.

  • Age: As age increases, the risk of breast cancer increases.

  • Diet and lifestyle choices: Women who smoke, eat a high-fat diet, drink alcohol are more at risk of developing breast cancer.

  • Radiation Exposure: Women who have had earlier received radiation to the Chest wall for some other disease are at increase risk of developing breast cancer.

  • Obesity: Overweight women are at a higher risk of developing breast cancer.

  • Oestrogen exposure – Women who started having periods earlier or entered menopause later than usual are at a higher risk of developing breast cancer. This is because their bodies have been exposed to oestrogen for a longer duration.

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Tips for Breast Cancer Prevention
 

  • It is important to self-examine your breasts. Women should be aware as to how their breast normally look and feel. If you feel any change, then consult the doctor. 

  • It is advisable for women who are around 40 to get their mammography done. Mammography is a simple radiographic technique which helps in detecting irregularities in the breast tissue.

  • Addition of vegetables and fruits in your diet helps in maintaining a healthy body weight.

  • For new mothers, it is advisable to breastfeed their child at least for one year. 

  • Don’t smoke or drink alcohol in excess.
     

NEED OF THE HOUR is awareness about breast examination, beginning from 20 years of age, and regular screening from a qualified doctor, so that it can be detected early and treated successfully. 
 

                         "Early detection is the key to prevention."
 

Busting the breast cancer myths

  • A lump in your breast means you have breast cancer.

Only a small percentage of lumps in the breast are cancerous. But if there is a persistent lump in the breast or any change in the breast tissue, always consult a doctor for a clinical breast exam.

 

  • Breast cancer is contagious.

Breast cancer neither can be caught from someone nor can be transferred to someone. It is a non-communicable disease which results from uncontrolled cell growth of the breast tissue.

 

  • A mammogram can cause spread of breast cancer.

A mammogram or X-ray of breast helps in early detection of breast cancer. It requires a very small dose of radiation. The risk of harm from this radiation is extremely low.