Breast cancer cases in India to double by 2015: Experts

New Delhi: Breast cancer has overtaken cervical cancer to become the leading site of cancer in metro cities and is expected to double by 2015, experts said Wednesday.

"Breast cancer has overtaken cervical cancer to become the leading site of cancer in Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai, Chennai, Bhopal, Ahmedabad and Kolkata with the relative proportion ranging from 21.7 percent to 28.7 percent," said P.K. Julka, professor of Oncology, All India institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi.

Speaking on the occasion of the Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Julka said though the incidence of breast cancer in India per 100,000 population is significantly less compared to US, France, Denmark, Sweden, Britain, the Netherlands, Canada, Australia, Switzerland, Italy, Singapore, Brazil and Japan but the mortality is almost 50 percent of the rate.

"The lifetime probability of developing breast cancer in India is one in 22 women compared to one in eight in US and other developed countries," he said.

In India, the number of new breast cancer cases is about 115,000 per year and this is expected to rise to 250,000 new cases per year by 2015.

Explaining the risk factors, Julka pointed to increasing age probability, lack of childbearing or breast feeding, higher hormone levels, late age of menopause, smoking, alcohol and economic status.

Breast cancer is usually treated with surgery and then possibly with chemotherapy or radiation, or both.

Targeted therapies for breast cancer focuses on proteins that signal cancer cells to grow and divide uncontrollably and have been found useful in the management of the disease.

"Targeted therapy means the specific medication targeting the particular group of cancer cell and destroying them without affecting the normal healthy cells so that treatment induced side effects are less," said Shyam Aggarwal, senior medical oncologist, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital.

Giving an account of the treatment cost of targeted gene therapy Amit Agarwal, consultant medical oncology, Fortis Hospital, Vasant Kunj says, "The actual cost of the treatment depends upon the type of the drugs used. Therefore, the cost can vary from Rs.10-15,000 a month to Rs.3 to 4 lacs a month."

"The side-effects associated with the targeted therapies are very minimal and significantly non-specific when compared to the conventional chemotherapy methods. Apart from this the success rate is 30-40 percent," he added.

Each year 10.9 million people suffer from breast cancer worldwide that results in 6.7 million deaths from the disease. The breast cancer is prevalent in almost all regions of the world and there is no country in which cancer is a rare occurrence.


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