Breast Cancer Fast Facts

Breast Cancer Fast Facts

Why me ?
“I have been a good person all my life ,why should this happen to me ?”This question is frequently asked by women who are diagnosed with breast cancer. There is no satisfying or as yet known scientific answer to this question as to why a stellar citizen and a wonderful person such as one’s mother, sister or daughter should develop breast cancer.
All one can philosophically say to a woman asking such a question is that ‘bad things happen to good people also’.Several risk factors for breast cancer have been well documented. However, for the majority of women presenting with breast cancer it is not possible to identify specific risk factors (IARC, 2008; Lacey et al., 2009).
World Health Organization
The medical and scientific community has made great strides in understanding the epidemiology, incidence, patterns of occurrence and overall behavior of the tumors affecting the individual from beginning to it’s growth,eventually to a fatal outcome.

Approximately 29 women per 100000 female population in India are affected yearly.
And the incidence is increasing.
In the last few years doctors at cancer centers in Mumbai and Delhi have published and presented their well researched findings in papers and at international symposia. They have observed rapid increase in the incidence of breast cancer in India, especially in the urban population.

Key message

Breast cancer is the top cancer in women worldwide and is increasing particularly in developing countries where the majority of cases are diagnosed in late stages.

World Health Organization

With so much known, the experts still struggle to answer exactly why the cell becomes cancerous. There is hope and strong sense that they will be successful in unlocking the mystery sooner than later. Once that knowledge becomes available then a definitive treatment or even development of a preventive vaccine (similar to a small pox or polio vaccine) is a distinct possibility.
At least that is the mission and the goal of those who have dedicated their career and life to achieve control of this disease.

The facts are upon us that women in our society are at an increased risk of developing a breast cancer in their life time in the 21 st century, than 100 years ago. This is not intended to raise an alarm or create a panic but essentially arm ourselves with proper information and increase awareness in our society.

What should women do ?
Until such time the cure is found, we need to be proactive and pay special attention to the recommendations and advise of the experts in the field. There is sufficient evidence to show that one can make a significant difference in the survival, if the cancer is detected at an early stage, allowing appropriate and less stressful treatment.It would only make sense then, that if women can undergo testing to detect the abnormal growth, even before it can be felt either by the women herself or by her physician, it can be treated appropriately with modern means to get better results and restore the woman’s quality of life to near normal.
There are two basic steps recommended to women as a disciplined approach to early detection.1. Breast self examination, once a month.
2. Screening Mammography of both breasts (in two views, of each breast).
When and how often should one do a screening mammogram ?
Expert panels working on behalf of prominent professional organizations and societies as well as cancer institutes in developed countries have come up with recommendations for screening mammograms after years of observational and prospective studies, as well as various detection and demonstration projects on a large scale.
Women at age fifty and above are recommended to have a yearly screening and those with high risk profile should start testing at 40 with either yearly or once in two years interval.Mammography is a relatively safe and easily performed test available to women at many centers including Maina Foundation’s center in Navi Mumbai.
Key message
Early detection in order to improve breast cancer outcome and survival remains the cornerstone of breast control.World Health Organization

Thanks to Dr. Vijay Patil MD for his contribution on ‘Breast Cancer Fast Facts’ to Maina Foundation.