Breast cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer in women across the world. It happens due to the proliferation of cells in the breast. Breast cancer is classified as ductal carcinoma and lobular carcinoma. A ductal carcinoma develops in the milk ducts, while lobular carcinoma begins in the milk-producing glands. Breast cancer can also be classified by how aggressive it is, with aggressive cancers being more likely to metastasize.
Most breast cancers are detected through screening mammograms before they cause any symptoms. However, some breast cancers can cause symptoms such as a lump in the breast, changes in the breast’s size or shape, discharge from the nipple, or breast pain. If you think you have any of these symptoms, visit your doctor without delay.
Risk Factors for Breast Cancer
The development of breast cancer is linked to several risk factors. Nevertheless, there is no specific cause for most breast cancer cases. Make sure you discuss your specific risk with your doctor.
- Personal History of Breast Cancer
Breast cancer risk is significantly influenced by personal history. A person diagnosed with breast cancer in the past is at greater risk of developing it again. Additionally, if you have a family history of breast cancer, your risk is also increased.
- Genetic Factors
Researchers have found that genetic mutations, such as those that affect the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, may increase the risk of developing breast cancer. Other gene changes may also increase the risk of breast cancer. To determine the likelihood of inheriting a cancer gene, you may consult your doctor about a comprehensive biomarker test, including genetic analysis.
- Menstrual History and Childbearing
There is evidence that reproductive and menstrual history affects breast cancer risk. Among the higher risk factors are the following:
- Menstruation that begins before the age of twelve
- Menopause occurs after the age of 55
- The inability to have children, childbirth at a later age, or not breastfeeding
Early Detection Methods
There are several early detection methods for breast cancer, including:
- Self-Breast Exams
Women need to be proactive about their breast health. A self-breast exam is a simple, effective way to check for changes or abnormalities. Here’s how to do a self-breast exam:
- First, identify the four quadrants of your breast. Using your right hand, feel each quadrant of your left breast, using small circular motions. Repeat this process on your right breast.
- Next, feel along your collarbone and under your arm for any lumps or changes. Finally, examine each nipple for discharge or changes in appearance.
If you notice any changes, it’s essential to follow up with a visit to your doctor. Doctors can treat breast cancer more effectively if it is detected early.
- Annual Screening Tests
Mammograms are the most effective screening tests for detecting breast cancer. In women over 40, mammography screening is recommended every 1-2 years since it can detect cancers, even at the earliest stages that are unlikely to be found in a physical examination for up to two years. Discuss your concerns with your mammography technologist regarding pain that may be caused by the mammogram test, as they may be able to prescribe a pain reliever.
- Why Early Detection Is Important
You can attribute the significance of early detection of breast cancer to several factors. Early detection of breast cancer can often lead to improved treatment outcomes. When cancer is detected early, it is likely to be smaller and less likely to spread. It means that there are more treatment options available and that they are likely to be more effective. Finding breast cancer can also help avoid painful and expensive treatments like chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
- Breast Cancer Treatment Cost in India
Women are more likely to suffer from breast cancer than any other type of cancer. According to statistics, the prevalence of breast cancer is increasing, with nearly 2 lakh new cases being diagnosed yearly in India. This figure is nearly 14% of all cancer cases in India (Source: GLOBOCAN) Despite this, India’s awareness about breast cancer and its early detection remains low.
Treatment costs are one of the significant factors contributing to this trend. Breast cancer treatment costs in India can be quite high, especially in private hospitals. The cost of chemotherapy and radiation therapy can range from ₹ 1 lakh to ₹ 5 lakh per cycle. Surgery can also be costly, with some surgeries costing up to ₹ 10 lakh.
The high breast cancer treatment cost in India often puts breast cancer patients at a disadvantage. Many patients cannot afford treatment and end up getting diagnosed much later when treating the condition is much more difficult. It illustrates the need for improved access to affordable breast cancer treatment in India.
It is crucial to detect breast cancer at an early stage to treat it effectively. Early detection increases the chances of survival. Women should be sure to get regular breast exams and mammograms. It is the best way to ensure early detection and more effective treatment.