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Mommy Naavneet had no clue why her baby suddenly stopped feeding from her right breast. Doctors diagnosed many possibilities like the milk may be drying out or that the milk had turned to pus.When an abscess was formed and removed, it was suspected to be cancerous. By the time her diagnosis came out, she was already at stage four CANCER!
Each year, an estimated 1.5 lakh new cases of breast cancer are diagnosed in India. According to recent data, breast cancer is now the leading type of cancer among women in India and has replaced cervical cancer. Currently, 32 in every 100,000 women get breast cancer in India.
Did You Know? 32 in every 1,00,000 women get breast cancer in India!
Countless women are falling prey to breast cancer, finding out about this fatal disease when it’s too late. 37 year old mom Naavneet Reddy was one such woman.
“The doctors kept telling me the milk might be drying out, that I should use a heating pad, that I should pump the milk out at regular intervals, and that my milk had turned to pus.”
When asked to undergo surgery to remove the pus pocket, the doctor suspected the lump to be cancerous.
When the biopsy report came out, his fears were proved correct. Reddy’s cancer had spread to stage four!
Breast Cancer Is A Costly Affair
Jyotsana Tanksale said she felt a stone-like lump in her breast in 2014. Back then she was 37 years old. Once tested, she was diagnosed with stage two cancer in her left breast.
She underwent surgery and 16 sessions of chemotherapy, 31 rounds of radiation. All of this to remove the lump! She spent Rs 10 Lakhs in exchange for a healthy life again.
But Is There Hope?
According to Dr. Reetu Jain, a medical oncologist at Mumbai’s Jaslok Hospital, until as less as five years ago,
stage four breast cancer patients would be given an outlook of 6-8 months by doctors. Their chances of survival beyond 8 months were low. Today,
however, medical breakthroughs have given hope to many women undergoing this trial. Treatments such as anti-HER2 therapy, injectable hormone therapy, etc.,
can prolong life and let even women with severe cancer have 4-5 years with their loved ones.
Early detection, of course, yields a higher chance of survival and a chance that the patient will be spared from a getting their breast removed surgically (mastectomy)
What Are The Risk Factors Causing Breast Cancer?
The following are noted to be the main causes of breast cancer in women.
- Living in Metropolitan Cities
- Alcohol and Cigarette Consumption
- Family History of Cancer
- Having Kids Later in Life
- Lack of Physical Exercise
- Exposure to Harmful Chemicals (in Food, Cosmetics, etc.)
- Taking Birth Control Pills
Cancer statistics show that the incidence of the deadly disease is higher in metropolitan cities.The lifestyle which promotes obesity, alcohol consumption, and having children at a later stage are suspected attributes that are known to increase the risk of breast cancer.
The average age of women to get hit by breast cancer is also going lower year by year. Indian women are found to get breast cancer ten years earlier than women in the west!Women in India are getting breast cancer as young as age 19!
Does Oestrogen Have A Part To Play In Breast Cancer?
Having children before the age of 30 can reduce the risk of breast cancer. Yes, any exposure to excess oestrogen increases the risk.
This is why having children before the age of 30 can reduce the risk of breast cancer.When a woman is pregnant and lactating, she is exposed to more progesterone, reducing her chances.This of course has its exceptions like in the case of Naavneet Reddy.
33 year old mother of two, Shikha Singh, had a similar fate. Diagnosed with stage three breast cancer while still lactating, she was immediately referred to an oncologist.In fact,a terrible pain in her left arm and a lump in her breast, made it unbearable for her to even hold her baby, let alone continue nursing.Shikha never even suspected cancer. As a mother who had just delivered a baby,she too assumed that pains and lumps may be normal during breastfeeding.In fact, it even surprised her doctor as she was still exposed to progesterone from the breastfeeding.
Other factors that lead to breast cancer are late menopause and early menarche (which is the beginning of menstruation), as both these expose women to excess oestrogen.
Check For Breast Cancer
Doctors recommend that all women above the age of 20 must get self- examined regularly. This short video shows you how to examine yourself for breast cancer.
How To Check For Breast Cancer
- Use the pads of your finger and press firmly at different points on your breasts to feel for lumps or any irregularities.
- Check whether nipples are retracted and if there is any discharge or secretion.
- Do this check seven days before or after menstruation, during ovulation.
While self-checks may be okay in your twenties, it is advised to get a clinical breast examination post the 30 mark. Post-40, an ultrasound is recommended.
After 45 years of age, a mammogram is an absolute must! The chances of breast cancer are high in women who have a family history of breast cancer or any other form of cancer.
Things You Can Do To Prevent Breast Cancer
Dr. Bharat Bhosle, a medical oncologist, says that smoking and drinking should be avoided completely! This means even social and occasional drinkers and smokers are at risk. If one absolutely wishes to indulge, keep it to a peg or 2 per week. You must increase your fibre intake, cut down on red meat, and indulge in regular exercise.
Prevention is definitely the way to go, as we battle the highest ever occurrence of deadly diseases. All of us have so many people and memories to live for, so it only makes sense to keep an eye out for things that may interfere with those moments that life has waiting for us.
Self-care is important, but we moms have a habit of putting everyone before ourselves. Ladies, treat yourself to a check-up, and you’ll be giving your family and yourself a reason to value and cherish how important you are to so many people, which you most definitely are!