Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women, it accounts for almost 30% of the entire cancer burden reported among women. With limited awareness and hesitancy towards preventive diagnosis, 1 in every 20 women is diagnosed with this cancer. With various misconceptions and lack of awareness regarding early diagnosis of breast cancer and related treatment, there has been a spike in the number of cases of breast cancer, among women between the ages of 35 to 50 years.
It is perhaps due to this lack of awareness that most women in India get diagnosed with the breast cancer at its advanced stages and thus have to undergo all the related treatment modalities that are both physically and mentally challenging. Due to pandemic induced hesitancy to visit hospitals a lot of women have delayed treatment or ignored early sign and symptoms, hence adding to the evident spike in cases.
Dr Ramesh Sarin, Senior Consultant, Surgical Oncologist, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, New Delhi said, “Basis our records from past three years, we have observed that 50 % women reporting breast cancer and related manifestations have been between the age of 35 to 50 years. With our hospital based consultation data for breast cancer, it is found that though 53% of the reported cases are in the initial stages of cancer and 47% are in the advanced stages of cancer by a total of 20% in stages 4 and 27% in stage 3 cancer. The survival or cure rate falls drastically from early-stage to advanced stages. In our own series, 90 % of women in stages 1 and 2 survive for more than 10 years while only 30% survive in stages 3 and 5% in stages 4. We need to increase the detection up to 70-80% in the early stages of cancer by making women aware of the early signs and symptoms of breast cancer for achieving a better cure rate with proper management of the disease.
The reasons for early age occurrence are varied and imprecise. It could be faulty genes inherited from parents or a history of breast or ovarian cancers in a close family. Certain lifestyle choices also contribute towards the risk of developing breast cancer in young women such as the limited or lower amount of physical activity and increasing obesity and smoking. Excessive consumption of alcohol and oral contraceptives also have a debatable association with increased risk of breast cancer in younger women. As a reason, women are highly advised to be watchful towards their sedentary lifestyle patterns and any newly observant signs of breast cancer like a lump, discharge or discolouration of breasts.”
Early detection can save a woman from undergoing chemotherapy, losing her breast and hair and experiencing related serious manifestations of the disease. Hence, there should be an increased awareness of breast cancer along with a guided behaviour for adequate weight management and correct diet and exercises with a self-responsibility of taking frequent self-examination and screening mammograms.