Come October, it is time to flash the pink ribbon and support all the Breast Cancer survivors and warriors. However, it is also the right time to take cognizance of the staggering facts surrounding Breast Cancer to gather more awareness about the disease.
As per new diagnosis estimates by Frost & Sullivan, it is likely that 1 in 10 women will develop Breast Cancer in their lifetime by 2025. What is more alarming is the fact that Breast Cancer ranked #1 among all types of cancer with 12.5% share, in 2020. Further, Breast Cancer was also seen in 30% of newly diagnosed cancers in women. Additionally, 6.8% of global breast cancer diagnosis occurs in women who are under forty!
While it might be heart-breaking to see yourself or your loved ones being fearful of developing Breast Cancer, it is equally important to raise awareness about detecting the signs early, seeking professional medical help, and containing the cancerous spread.
Do lumps mean cancer?
No! Lumps are not always indicative of cancerous growth…
Breast Cancer typically refers to any cancerous growth that begins in either of the two breasts, or in both. Cancerous cells spread out of control and begin developing as tumours or lumps, indicating abnormal growth. While not all lumps are cancerous, there may be significance to an increased risk of developing Breast Cancer. Any lumps or abnormal changes in breast size need to be followed up with a thorough consultation from a healthcare professional.
Signs to watch out for!
While most cancerous occurrences start with a tumour, the signs vary from person to person. A host of early warning signs may be apparent, including skin changes such as swelling, redness, or itchiness, in and around the breast areas. Any change in the shape or size of the nipples, as well as any discharge (except in lactating mothers), may be a warning sign of an impending condition. Likewise, any pain that might be felt as a stab or flashing pain in any part of the breast may also be indicative of a potential risk. Most commonly of all, any signs of lumps or nodes that can be felt, apparently, might also be an indication of any impending condition.
Can it be seen in men?
While the majority of the cases of Breast Cancer are seen in women, men also have a chance to get Breast Cancer. Most often than not, we do not realise that men also have breast tissue that can develop into cancerous forms. Cells in any part of the human body have the capability to turn cancerous, and can in turn spread into other adjacent areas.
Similar to the cancerous growth in women, Breast Cancer in men also begins with cells growing out of control to form a tumour. While most cases of Breast Cancer spread from the ducts that carry the milk or in the mammary glands, there are other parts that can be the source of origin too. Men also have these glands and ducts, but with the ducts and glands not being functional, they are less prone than women when it comes to Breast Cancer.
What triggers Breast Cancer?
While the exact cause cannot be pinpointed, we can associate several risk factors which can increase the chance of getting cancer. Some of these risk factors can be attributed to lifestyle changes. A few of these include what we eat, how much exercise we do, and how much workout we do. Another important factor is the genes that get passed on. If we have any abnormal or mutated genes, or if there is a family history of Breast Cancer, our chances of getting cancer are increased.
Further, women who get Breast Cancer do not necessarily need a family history. Any incident of Breast Cancer within immediate blood relatives increases the risk of the disease. For instance, someone whose mother, sister, daughter, or grandmother might have had Breast Cancer may have a high risk. Similarly, someone whose father or brother had an incident of Breast Cancer may also carry the risk. Also, a woman who has developed cancer in one of the breasts also has a risk of developing a new cancer occurrence in the other breast or a new development of another cancer in some other part of the same breast.
Evaluating treatment options
There are lots of treatment options available for early-stage to advanced stage Breast Cancer. Radiation therapy, which is one of the most commonly used form of treatment uses high energy X-rays to kill the cancer cells. Radiation therapy can further be external-radiation therapy or an intra-operative radiation therapy which is delivered using a probe. Likewise, Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill the cancerous cells. Chemotherapy can be given either before a surgery to shrink the cancer cells, or after a surgery to avoid re-occurrence of the cells. For cancers which results due to hormones, Hormonal Therapy is given. Such therapies stop the growth of cancerous hormones. Targeted Therapy, which targets the removal of specific genes, proteins, or tissues is also given. Apart from all these, Surgery is also used as a means to remove the tumour, and the area surrounding the tumour.
Detecting Breast Cancer early!
Detecting Breast Cancer early and following it up with professional medical support is an important step in minimizing the cancer outbreak. Breast Cancer, when detected early, can be contained and can be treated successfully. In general, it is ideal to resort to screening tests to find any potential outbreaks. The aim behind running screening tests is to detect any potential or early symptoms. In general, women above the age of 40 who do not have a personal history of Breast Cancer, or who do not have a family history of Breast Cancer, or who do not have any known genetic variations that can increase the risk of Breast Cancer, or those who have not had any chest radiation or therapy can undergo screening after a thorough professional consultation. Mammography, the form of imaging which detects early cancerous growth in breasts can also be undertaken as per professional medical guidance.
Lastly, Breast Cancer, like other disease also needs early diagnosis, detection, and timely medical support. Do not hesitate to take professional support if you are worried, or even if you want a general screening. Always remember, prevention is better than cure!
Don’t forget to spread awareness about this disease during October, which aligns with the ongoing “Breast Cancer Awareness Month“.