By: Vinod Chandrashekhar Dixit
Breast cancer today has become a dreaded disease and has got deadlier for the modern woman who is becoming vulnerable to the illness. Breast cancer is the second most common cancer in Indian women. The incidence is more in urban than rural women. No doubt, we have seen a considerable change in the level of awareness among women in semi urban and urban areas. The rise is particularly affecting younger women between 30 and 40 years. The fault, to a certain extent, lies with the doctors too who do not encourage screening. Many of us have a misconception that visiting a doctor is required only if we have symptoms that do not go away. It is important to understand that screening is for healthy women without any symptoms. Every woman after 40 should go for a mammogram test. Fathers, brothers and husbands should speak to their daughters, sisters and wives and make them understand the importance of regular breast and cervical cancer screening. Most girls work, have late marriages and then have children even later. All these factors work at increasing the chances of breast cancer,” Stress and obesity are other factors that can increase the chances of having breast cancer.
To prevent a disease, we need to spread awareness to mitigate the risk factors that may lead to breast disease and breast cancer.
In India, scientists are incredibly good at improving technology while simultaneously making it cost-effective. Irrespective of one’s education, nutritional and socio-economic status, everyone faces a risk of developing cancer. This is called the population risk of developing cancer. A timely initiative with the right degree of gravity for raising awareness about breast cancer among the folks. To be frank, most people do have only a vague idea about breast cancer and the intensity of the malady.
Cancer has always been considered a disease of the aged. Though that is true to a certain extent, the age at which women develop breast cancer has undergone a change in the last two decades. An increasing number of breast cancers are detected in the 25-40 years age group. The mere presence of risk factors is not synonymous with the occurrence of breast cancer nor can all risk factors for breast cancer be mitigated or modified. The following universal suggestions may be made for all Indian women:
* A diet low in fat and rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants (through fresh fruits and vegetables).
* Regular exercise and weight reduction.
* Alcohol consumption must be avoided or minimised.
* Avoid use of tobacco. While tobacco does not lead directly to breast cancer, it can lead to certain benign breast diseases.
* Oral contraceptive pills and Hormone Replacement Treatment must be undertaken under the close supervision of a health care provider.
* Self-breast examination must be practiced monthly from teenage onwards by all women.
* Clinical breast examination may be undertaken annually with one’s health care provider.
Women must be familiar with structure of their breasts and do regular examinations. According to doctors, with changing times and a faster lifestyle, younger women are becoming more susceptible to the disease.
Need to mitigate the risk factors to breast disease and cancer
By: Vinod Chandrashekhar Dixit