This breast cancer awareness month, Dr Mukta Nadig from Cloudnine Malleshwaram shares some very useful information that all of us should be aware of.
Breast cancer is a kind of cancer that develops from breast cells. It refers to a malignant tumour that has developed from cells in the breast, usually in the cells of the lobules (milk-producing glands) or in the ducts (passages draining milk from lobules to nipples).
It can also be found, albeit less commonly, in the stromal tissues (fatty and fibrous tissues of the breast).
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In the US, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women –1 woman in 8 or 12% are at risk of getting breast cancer. This is the general risk for a woman. The older age group has a higher risk.
The crude breast cancer rate in urban Indian women is 25-30 and the age-adjusted rate is 30-35 new cases per 1,00,000 women per year. The rate of breast cancer is increasing – the average increase over a 30 year period in Mumbai was 11% per decade.
Breast cancer is increasing both in young (11% per decade) and old women (16% per decade). There are an estimated 1,00,000 -1, 25,000 new breast cancer cases in India every year.
RISK FACTORS: Below are the two types of factors
Which can be controlled
- Weight – Being overweight especially after menopause means having more fat tissue which increases the estrogen levels which can increase breast cancer risk.
- Diet – Red Meat or processed meats other sources of animal fats like dairy, cheese, milk, ice cream should be restricted. A low-fat diet rich in fruits and vegetable is recommended.
- Exercise – 40 – 50 mins of physical exercise for 5 or more days in a week is recommended and is known to lower the risk of breast cancer.
- Alcohol – Alcohol limits the liver’s ability to control blood levels of estrogen hormone which increases the breast cancer risk. To restrict or avoid alcohol
- Smoking – It is also associated with a small increase in the risk of breast cancer.
- Exposure to estrogen – Long term intake of HRT or estrogen alone without breaks for more than 10 years increases the risk of breast cancer.
- Stress and Anxiety – There is no clear proof of the relationship but “mindful measures” like yoga, meditation, prayer strengthen the immune system.
Which cannot be controlled
- Gender – Woman’s breast cells are constantly changing and growing under the influence of estrogens although there is a risk to the men also.
- Age – Growing older increases the risk
- Family History – History of cancer in first-degree relatives increases the risk as they may have inherited mutations in genes known as BRCA-1 or BRCA-2. For women with BRCA -1 risk by 70 years is 65%; BRCA -2 risk is 45%
- Personal history of Breast cancer – If a woman has suffered from breast cancer there is a high recurrence risk.
- Asian women have a slightly lower risk than Caucasian women
- Natural exposure to estrogen – Like early puberty or late menopause
- Pregnancy and Breast cancer – Women have never been pregnant or who have never breastfed are at an increased risk.
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SYMPTOMS AND DIAGNOSIS
Varies from lumps to skin changes over the breast.
- Breast self-examination should be a regular monthly healthcare routine for all women, especially the postmenstrual period.
- If over 40, an annual mammogram and physical exam by the doctor should be done.
SCREENING AND TESTING
In recent years various options of life-saving treatments have become available. The best treatment plan should be decided jointly by the patient, patient’s family and the doctor.
Options could be;
- Surgery – Breast-conserving surgery
- Lumpectomy and Mastectomy
- Prophylactic Surgery and Reconstruction of the breast
- Radiation Therapy
- Hormonal Therapy
- Targeted Therapy
- A complementary and holistic approach
In essence, breast cancer has a very good prognosis if detected early and has almost 80%-90% survival.
Cloudnine has introduced Well Woman checkups, which are essential preventive checkups for women of any age. Learn more here. http://bit.ly/1aV7F69
Must Read: The Truth Behind Some Breast Cancer Myths
Dr Mukta Nadig
Senior Consultant, Obstetrics and Gynaecology