October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Throughout this month awareness is spread about breast cancer and women are encouraged to go for breast screening. Every woman should be aware of the various changes that her breasts undergo throughout her adult life.
As per statistics, as many as 1.6 million cases are reported annually. In rural India, 1 in 60 women is likely to develop breast cancer during her lifetime, whereas in cities 1 in every 28 women is likely to suffer from the disease.
Breast cancer has emerged as one of the deadliest cancers in the country, which if not diagnosed in time, can lead to fatal results. According to experts, breast cancer cases are likely to strike approximately 2.5 lakh women in India by 2015.
In an exclusive interview with Shruti Saxena of Zeenews.com, Dr Deepa Tayal, Senior Consultant Breast Surgeon, Fortis La Femme, speaks about various aspects of the disease.
Shruti: How important are lifestyle factors in the development of breast cancer?
Dr Deepa: Lifestyle factors are very important in the development of breast cancer, as the incidence of breast cancer is 3 times more in urban Indian population as compared to rural population. Pollution, changing lifestyle, high alcohol intake, late age at child birth are some of the examples.
Shruti: Can you tell us about some self breast examination methods which can be undertaken at home?
Dr Deepa: Self Breast Examination (SBE) is a very important diagnostic tool for breast cancer diagnosis.
SBE is performed at home either in shower or in front of a mirror.
Women should know what is normal to them and if they find anything abnormal, they should report that to a breast specialist immediately.
Fig - Steps of Self Breast Examination
Changes that should have been looked for:
- Any lump in breast
- Painful areas
- Discharge through nipples
- Any changes in the skin of breast like colour, roughness
- Any lumps in the arm pits
Shruti: Is it necessary that a woman diagnosed with breast cancer has to have a family history of the disease?
Dr Deepa: It is a myth associated with breast cancer. If any woman is diagnosed with breast cancer then it is not necessary that either someone in the family is suffering from the disease or will suffer from it in the future.
Shruti: Do deodorants and antiperspirants cause breast cancer?
Dr Deepa: It is again a myth. Deodorants and antiperspirants do not cause breast cancer.
Shruti: What is mastectomy?
Dr Deepa: Mastectomy is a surgical procedure performed for breast cancer patients. In mastectomy, whole of the affected breast along with glands in same arm pit is removed surgically.
Shruti: What are some of the most common side effects of breast cancer treatment?
Dr Deepa: Side effects of breast cancer treatment depend on the kind of treatment provided.
Surgery – After mastectomy most common side effects are swelling of the arm of the same side, infection, cosmetic appearance of the breast
Chemotherapy – Patients lose their hair and appetite, experience generalised weakness, nausea and vomiting
Radiotherapy – Burning sensations, weakness, loss of appetite