Pink with a Purpose: Understanding Breast Cancer

Pink with a Purpose: Understanding Breast Cancer

Dr B Niranjan Naik,

By Dr B Niranjan Naik, Consultant, Surgical Oncology, Fortis Hospital Gurugram 

Breast cancer is the most common cancer affecting women globally. According to the National Cancer Registry, over 1.9 lakh women in India are diagnosed with breast cancer each year. Alarmingly, 55% of these cases are identified at an advanced stage, with less than a 15% chance of survival. Early detection, on the other hand, boosts survival rates to over 90%.

Early Detection Matters: The cure rate for breast cancer is an impressive 97% when detected early. Unfortunately, less than 10% of the 100,000 new cases in India fall into this category. Unlike the West, Indian women are affected at a younger age (30-40 years), often leading to late-stage diagnoses due to low awareness regarding breast screening and self-examination.

Understanding the Risks: Breast cancer doesn’t have a single known cause, but various factors contribute. Urbanization brings its challenges, with pollution affecting water, air, and food. Pesticides in fruits and vegetables, genetic mutations, environmental toxins, lifestyle factors, and hormonal influences are all linked to breast cancer.

Recognizing Symptoms: Painless lumps in the breast or armpit, nipple discharge, skin changes, and nipple retraction are symptoms to watch for. Early diagnosis involves a clinical examination by a cancer specialist, with mammography and breast ultrasound being reliable diagnostic tools.

Treatment and Outcomes: Recent advances in medical fields have transformed breast cancer management. Surgery, chemotherapy, targeted immunotherapy, radiotherapy, and hormonal therapy have improved overall survival. With awareness and early intervention, people now live longer than two decades post-diagnosis.

Prevention and Self-Care: Exercise, a positive attitude, adequate rest, and proper nutrition form the pillars of good health. A diet rich in antioxidants and regular exercise play preventive roles. Monthly Breast Self-Examination (BSE) is a simple yet effective method for early detection. Women in high-risk groups should undergo regular breast screening tests after the age of 30.

Early detection is the best protection against breast cancer. Regular monthly self-examination is a key factor in identifying symptoms early. It’s a simple step, and the power lies in your hands. So, be breast sure, because in the battle against cancer, early detection is your best ally.