Breast Cancer: Its time to spread awareness

Breast Cancer: Its time to spread awareness
Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer is a form of cancer which occurs in the breast tissue. It is found mainly in women but even males are not completely out of the risk. It is time to spread awareness about the disease so that early diagnose can save lives. Here is an interview which was conducted to help our readers get the answers of the questions which they want a doctor to answer for them:

Breast Cancer Awareness MonthWhen asked to explain breast cancer for our readers and whether it is painful or not, Dr. Dhananjaya explained that “Breast Cancer is a cancer in the breast tissue.”. Dr. Agarwal added – “It is usually not painful unless the disease is advanced.”

Symptoms is what most of the people like answer for, here is what doctors suggested. As per Dr. Dhananjaya, below are few symptoms which should not be ignored:

• The most common symptom of breast cancer is a detection of a palpable mass. The mass may be painful in 10-15% of the patients.
• A thickening or lump in the breast or armpit usually observed after the menstrual cycle.
• Swelling in the armpit.
• A change in the size or shape of the breast.
• Changes in the skin of the breast like dimple in the skin or skin that looks like an orange peel.
• Visible flattening on the breast.
• Changes in the nipple like indrawn nipple, nipple that is itchy or ulcerous.
• Unusual discharge from the nipples including occasional blood discharge.
• Hardness of the breast.
• Since breast cancer is rare in men, any lump in a male is considered abnormal.

Self Examination has an important role in identifying if you can be the case for breast cancer, Dr. Agarwal suggested, “By doing regular (once a month breast self examination) and finding a breast lump which is increasing in size.”

Dr. Dhananjaya also believes, “To perform Breast Self Examination every month, a day after the menstrual period. The procedure involves systematic examination of the breast for presence of a lump in the breast or any of the symptoms as mentioned above. To be aware and alert for any of the symptons mentioned above.”

Here are the causes of Breast Cancer as per Dr. Dhananjaya:

• All women are at risk of developing breast cancer, generally after the age of 45 years, and in about 5-12% women early onset breast cancer below the age of 45 years.
• Longer period of menarche
• Obesity
• Smoking
• Alcohol
• Late Marriage
• Late age at first born

Dr. Agarwal added:

• Higher exposure to estrogens in a lifetime
• Late marraige leading to late child bearing
• Intake of oral contraceptive pills
• Obesity
• Family history of breast cancer with one first degree relative or 2 second degree relative suffering with breast cancer

Prevention Methods:

Can Breast Cancer be prevented, Dr. Agarwal believes:

• Once a month breast self examination
• Avoid intake of oral contraceptives
• Regular exercises
• Avoid surplus fat intake

Dr. Dhananjaya said:

Breast cancer is not preventable. However, risk factors can be reduced by:

• A healthy life style
• Early age of first born
• Long lactation period
• Weight under control
• Exercise – a 40 min walk 5 days a week helps in recurrence
• Better response to treatment

Here are the available treatment options of the disease:

• Surgery
• Hormone therapy in hormone responsive breast cancer
• Radiation Therapy
• Chemotherapy

Why the Breast Cancer re-occur, Dr. Dhananjaya explains, “The risk of recurrence in either the same breast, if mastectomy was not performed, or in contralateral breast is increased in women sith initial breast cancer diagnosed and treated.”

Dr. Agarwal added, “Some women are at high risk of recurrence especially younger women, recurrence also depends on the surgical expertise, whether patients have received adequate postoperative radiotherapy, stage of the disease at presentation.”

As per both the doctors, a family history of breast cancer increases the chances of getting the problem.

Dr. Agarwal added, “Family history of breast cancer with one first degree relative or 2 second degree relative suffering with breast cancer poses a woman with 3-4 fold increase in risk.”

When asked what is Secondary Breast Cancer, Dr. Dhananjaya explained, “Secondary breast cancer is an independently arising breast cancer in an individual with a primary cancer in the breast or any other organ in the individual.”

While Dr. Agarwal says, “Secondary breast cancer is development of breast cancer in the opposite breast. The symptoms are the same as mentioned above.”

Most of the patient who get treatment are concerned about the side effects of Breast Cancer Treatment, Dr. Dhananjaya explains it well for us:

The common side effects of chemotherapy in breast cancer patients are:

• Nausea
• Vomiting
• Hair Loss
• Fatigue
• Increased chances of bruising and bleeding
• Diarrhea/constipation
• Anemia and infection
• Loss of apetite
• Weight loss

The side effects of radiotherapy include:

• Fever and Infection
• Skin Irritation restricted to the area receiving radiation
• Hair Loss
• Tiredness
• Fatigue

Dr. Agarwal believes, there can be swelling of the arm on the side of surgery (sometimes), restriction of movement of the arm on the side of surgery (sometimes).

Dr. Dhananjaya belives, a 40 min brisk walk, five days a week has been demonstrated in several studies and is advocated, for individuals to reduce risk of breast cancer.

Dr. Dhananjaya suggested for our viewers, “Be alert and aware that breast cancer is possible in every women. The healthier the lifestyle the lesser the risk of breast cancer. If diagnosed in the early stages of breast cancer in the woman, the cure rate is as high as 95%. Hence, necessary to undergo breast self examination every month after the age of 20-25 years, clinical breast examination by your gynecologist at 30 – 40 years, first mamaogram at 45 years of age, followed by mammography every 2 year, in case of normal risk of breast cancer, without any additional breast cancer risk.”

Dr. Agarwal suggested, “The incidence of breast cancer in India is higher in urban region and more common in younger women. The precautionery measures mentioned above and once a month breast self examination should be practised to detect breast cancers at an early stage and hence result in better outcomes.”

Special Thanks to:

Dr.Mrs.Dhananjaya Saranath

Dr. Sushma Agrawal
Additional Professor
Department of Radiotherapy
Sanjay Gandhi PGI

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About Rachna Gupta

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