Indians at higher risk of breast cancer

Indians at higher risk of breast cancer
Highlights

The recent Globacan 2018 data published by the World Health Organisation WHO declares that breast cancer is the most common cancer in India It has outranked all other cancers with about 16 lakh new breast cancers detected every year contributing to 14 percent of all cancers put together

The recent ‘Globacan 2018’ data published by the World Health Organisation (WHO) declares that breast cancer is the most common cancer in India. It has outranked all other cancers with about 1.6 lakh new breast cancers detected every year contributing to 14 percent of all cancers put together. But what is more disturbing is that breast cancer also ranks first in deaths due to all cancers. One in 25 women are at risk of developing breast cancer in India, only one out of two breast cancer patients make it beyond 5 years after treatment.

The common reasons for this abnormally high death rate are:

1.Most of the women in India present in late stages. Even though the trend is changing in the cities where women are more aware and come early for evaluation
2. There is a huge disparity in healthcare facilities available between rural and urban areas
3. Most women in India have neither financial independence nor insurance coverage
4. The stigma of cancer, the promise of cure by alternative treatment, the fear of side effects of chemotherapy delay treatment in a sizable proportion of women even after diagnosis
4. Lack of robust mammographic or any other screening programme for breast cancer in India.
5. In India, the percentage of younger women with breast cancer is about 15 percent i.e. double that of the west. In younger women, they are more aggressive, present at a later stage and may have a genetic predisposition

Can we do anything about this alarming epidemic?
Yes. There is something which each of us can do to bring down the crisis: Be aware of changes in the breast; Be screened; and Manage your genes

Be aware of changes in breast

The first step towards being aware of changes in the breast is breast self-examination. A woman needs to be aware of her breast and its changes. Any abnormal change needs expert consultation.

Avoid or reduce risk

The risk factors for breast cancer are either modifiable or unmodifiable. Unmodifiable risk factors are age, gender and genes. The modifiable risk factors that can be reduced or avoided are: High-fat diet; Obesity; Alcohol; Delayed childbirth; and, Hormonal pills.

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