October is celebrated as Breast Cancer Awareness month but Dr. Bhawna Sirohi – Medical Oncologist at Apollo Proton Cancer Centre – feels that every day should be a breast cancer awareness day because it is very important for us to know what is normal and take advise immediately if there’s something that is not normal with your body.
With the treatment options of breast cancer – by far the most common form of cancer in the world – getting better, more and more patients are getting cured.
While in western countries, the five-year survival or five-year outcomes are about 85 to 90 per cent for all comers with breast cancer. However, this figure is 60-70 per cent in countries like India and. According to the doctor, this is because most of the patients are diagnosed at a later stage and also because of lack of coordinated screening program.
Dr Sirohi feels that this can be changed only with the help of dialogues.
“You have diabetes and blood pressure that are not curable and may be life-threatening with patients ending up on dialysis if these are not well controlled. But cancer, especially breast cancer, if detected early is curable,” she said.
She emphasized that being breast aware is the only way to save lives because it is treatable if detected in the pre-cancerous stage or stage zero breast cancer or even in stage 1 and stage 2.
Things get complicated when it reaches stage 3 and stage 4, she added.
The doctor also said that it is always better to go for a digital mammogram as the image quality is better and the dose of radiation to you is less. She also clarified that the mammogram itself can cause cancer because radiation is the risk factor for any kind of cancer. “But the benefits of having a mammogram with newer techniques outweigh the risks that you would have with not having a mammogram.”