The month of October every year is dedicated to creating awareness about breast cancer and rightly so! Amongst the many cases of cancer detected every year, breast cancer is a common form of malignant cancer, detected in women. In fact, the theme for breast cancer awareness for the year of 2019 – Give Hope, Save Lives, has laid down the right emphasis on why every adult female, irrespective of age, should undergo periodic screenings, to rule out breast cancer.
Why Breast Cancer Tends to be Fatal
Cancer of the breast proves to be fatal in most cases, mainly because early symptoms of this disease condition, are not noticed easily. The later breast cancer is detected, the lesser are the chances of survival of an individual.
Early detection of breast cancer gives enough time to your healthcare provider, to adequately treat the disease. Breast cancer found in women during regular screenings tends to be localized to just the breast/s and are smaller in size. On the other hand, for women who display symptoms of the disease, the cancer tends to be at a more advanced stage and more spread out.
Undergoing regular screenings at your physician’s clinic, can supply your healthcare provider with more treatment options and facilitate in the easy removal of precancerous lumps in the breast, if any.
Risk Factors of Breast Cancer
- Family History: Women who have genetic mutations such as the presence of the genes BRCA1 & BRCA2, had suffered from breast cancer or certain kinds of other cancers in the past and those who have a previous family history of breast cancer, amongst their close female or male relatives, are at an increased risk of developing breast cancer earlier.
- Reproductive History: Chances of breast cancer tend to rise in the event that a female might have undergone her menstruation before the age of 12 or her menopause after 55. The presence of more connective tissue in women with denser breasts, make it difficult to detect tumorous growth in the breasts, automatically raising the potential of developing breast cancer early on.
- Medical History: Women who have undergone radiation therapy for cancers’ such as Hodgkin’s lymphoma, lobular carcinoma or atypical ductal hyperplasia, to the chest or breasts early-on in in life, can experience an occurrence breast cancer owing to this, as they progress in age. Hormonal medications such as oral contraceptives and birth control pills, taken without a doctor’s intervention, also increase the risk of breast cancer. Women who have had pregnancies post the age of 30 or have not had full-term pregnancies, are also at greater risks of breast cancer, than other women who do not fall in these categories.
- Poor Lifestyle Habits: Regular consumption of alcohol, not being physically active, smoking, consuming a diet rich in fatty food and living in an environment of constant stress and anxiety, can eventually contribute to a heightened risk of breast cancer.
- Miscellaneous Factors: The older a woman grows; the more are her chances of being detected with breast cancer. In fact, most breast cancers are detected in women above the age of 50. Long-term exposure to the pesticide DDT either from the environment or through food sources, also puts one at a greater risk of breast cancer.
How to Address Breast Cancer & its Risks???
If breast cancer is detected early, the quality of life improves directly. There are many ways by which this can be done. The signs and symptoms associated with breast cancer are silent, but if we are proactive about our breast health, these can be detected very early.
Pain, discomfort or tenderness in the breast or underarm region should ring a warning bell, but not every ache and pain in this region is a sign of breast cancer. This uncomfortable feeling may also be caused by cysts in the breast. The best way to rule out any cancerous growth is to immediately seek an appointment with your gynecologist who can suggest further diagnostic tests to rule out breast cancer.
Some of the methods by which breast cancer can be kept at bay or its prognosis improved are as follows: –
Regular Breast Self-Examinations (BSE): Performing regular breast self-examinations in combination with other breast cancer detection methods can help rule out or detect early stages of breast cancer. Ideally, checking one’s breasts for any signs of thickening, lumpy growth or something unusual, that you would not notice normally on your breast such as a change in nipple size or discharge from it, could be a warning sign of the onset of breast cancer. The best time for a BSE is a week after one’s menstruation, when the breasts are not tender or swollen, after menopause or a surgery such as a hysterectomy.
Clinical Breast Examinations: A doctor can help you understand if the self-breast examination that you do, is being done in the correct way or not. It is also advisable for any adult female to have her breasts examined annually with at her physician’s office, after she turns 25.
Mammograms: In fact, once a woman turns 40, having a regular mammogram is highly recommended. A mammogram is an X-ray picture of the breast which can help detect even the most minute abnormalities in the breast, thus providing your doctor clarity on the extent of spread of the cancer, if any. A doctor may even suggest a biopsy to confirm the presence or absence of cancer.
Others tips that can prevent cancer include –
- Immediately stopping or never starting to smoke or drink
- Staying physically fit through moderate exercises such as jogging to maintain a healthy weight – obesity being one of the key contributors to various cancers in women
- Limiting the consumption of red meats for a healthier diet
- Living more mindfully to stress at a distance can help your overall health and wellbeing.
Talk to your doctor or healthcare provider if you feel you are at a higher risk of breast cancer. Your gynecologist or specialist doctor can suggest the best treatment methods based on your respective risk profile and thus help you improve your overall prognosis, if detected with breast cancer. So, remember, early prevention – is the best therapy!
Dr. Swati Rahul Pawar
Aster Clinic, Bur Dubai (Aster Jubilee Medical Complex)
For appointments & inquiries: https://asterclinic.ae/doctor/dr-swati-rahul-pawar/