Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Breast Cancer Awareness

Cancer has always been a dreadful name for common man especially. Cancer in any form signifies pain, mental torture and finally succumbing to end. But its real definition is unknown to many. According to WHO, Cancer is a generic term for a large group of diseases that can affect any part of the body. One defining feature of cancer is the rapid division of abnormal cells that grow beyond their defined limits, and which can then invade adjoining parts of the body and spread to other organs. This process is referred to as metastasis. Metastases are the major cause of death from cancer. Breast cancer is currently the top cancer in women worldwide, both in the developed and the developing world. The majority of breast cancer deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, where most of the women are diagnosed in late stages due mainly to lack of awareness and barriers to access to health services.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide, comprising 16% of all female cancers. It is estimated that 5,19 000 women died in 2004 due to breast cancer, and although breast cancer is thought to be a disease of the developed world, a majority (69%) of all breast cancer deaths occurs in developing countries (WHO Global Burden of Disease, 2004).

Incidence rates vary greatly worldwide, with age standardized rates as high as 99.4 per 100 000 in North America. Eastern Europe, South America, Southern Africa, and western Asia have moderate incidence rates, but these are increasing. The lowest incidence rates are found in most African countries but here breast cancer incidence rates are also increasing. The statistics are indeed disheartening and provoke us to initiate a strong fight against it. In fact, many women remain ignorant of the symptoms of the disease and tend to ignore them. This has been especially seen in underdeveloped countries. 

Reproductive factors associated with prolonged exposure to endogenous estrogens, such as early menarche, late menopause, late age at first childbirth are among the most important risk factors for breast cancer. The causal factors have been associated with familial history of the patient and rarely with mutations of genes. We need to address such grave familial tendencies effectively as it would aid in early detection and henceforth early treatment of cancer. 

Woman get scared of telling the changes in them and suffer the end term consequences. Few steps towards prevention can bring about long term results. Women in underdeveloped and developing nations are unaware of simple points. Control of specific modifiable breast cancer risk factors as well as effective integrated prevention of non-communicable diseases which promotes healthy diet, physical activity and control of alcohol intake, overweight and obesity, could eventually have an impact in reducing the incidence. The effect of cancer is more of psychological than physical. 

There are two early detection methods; one could be early diagnosis or awareness of early signs and symptoms in symptomatic populations in order to facilitate diagnosis and early treatment and second could be screening that is the systematic application of a screening test in a presumably asymptomatic population. It aims to identify individuals with an abnormality suggestive of cancer.

As far as treatment is concerned, Breast cancer is usually treated with surgery and then possibly with chemotherapy or radiation, or both. A multidisciplinary approach is preferable. Hormone positive cancers are treated with long term hormone blocking therapy. Treatments are given with increasing aggressiveness according to the prognosis and risk of recurrence.

We all can read books over breast cancer or simply search on net but if we do not take necessary steps what is the point… Sometimes, we need someone who can tell us few points in a different manner which insists us to rethink over the issue. Hopefully, this does the same.

Hence jist is as per incidence level we need to educate women through every possible way. As  

“Prevention is better than cure”

  • Written by Dr. Aakshi Kalra

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