Breast Cancer Awareness
In India, over 1,50,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year -a staggering number that has overtaken cervical cancer to become the most common cancer affecting women in India.
With 70,000 deaths getting reported every year, a woman succumbs to breast cancer every ten minutes in the country.
Due to a lack of awareness (even in metro cities), the absence of a nationwide, population-based breast cancer screening programme more than 60 per cent of breast cancers are detected at an advanced stage, unfortunately most cancer patients succumb to the disease within a year of getting diagnosed.
Here are a
few of them:
Most breast lumps are cancerous
Nine out of 10 breast lumps are not cancerous. However, it is important to investigate the breast lump by way of Triple assessment (a clinical breast examination by a specialist, bilateral mammogram and ultrasound guided core needle biopsy) in order to obtain a definitive diagnosis.
Breast cancer affects only older women
Although a majority of breast cancers do occur in women over the age of 50 in the Western world, it can, in fact, occur at any age. It is alarming to note that a majority of breast cancer patients in India are diagnosed with the disease at a much earlier age, at less than 50 years.
If you're concerned about breast cancer, you might be wondering if there are steps you can take toward breast cancer prevention. Some risk factors, such as family history, can't be changed. However, there are lifestyle changes you can make to lower your risk.
What can I do to reduce my risk of breast cancer?
Lifestyle changes have been shown in studies to decrease breast cancer risk even in high-risk women. The following are steps you can take to lower your risk:
- Control your weight. Being overweight or obese increases the risk of breast cancer. This is especially true if obesity occurs later in life, particularly after menopause.
- Be physically active. Physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight, which, in turn, helps prevent breast cancer. For most healthy adults it is recommended at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity weekly, plus strength training at least twice a week.
- Breast-feed. Breast-feeding might play a role in breast cancer prevention. The longer you breast-feed, the greater the protective effect.
- Limit dose and duration of hormone therapy. Combination hormone therapy for more than three to five years increases the risk of breast cancer. If you're taking hormone therapy for menopausal symptoms, ask your doctor about other options. You might be able to manage your symptoms with nonhormonal therapies and medications. If you decide that the benefits of short-term hormone therapy outweigh the risks, use the lowest dose that works for you and continue to have your doctor monitor the length of time you are taking hormones.
- Avoid exposure to radiation and environmental pollution.Medical-imaging methods, such as computerized tomography, use high doses of radiation. While more studies are needed, some research suggests a link between breast cancer and radiation exposure. Reduce your exposure by having such tests only when absolutely necessary.
Can a healthy diet prevent breast cancer?
Eating a healthy diet might decrease your risk of some types of cancer, as well as diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
For example, women who eat a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil and mixed nuts might have a reduced risk of breast cancer. The Mediterranean diet focuses on mostly on plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts. People who follow the Mediterranean diet choose healthy fats, like olive oil, over butter and fish instead of red meat.
Maintaining a healthy weight also is a key factor in breast cancer prevention.