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Breast Cancer - Awareness, Symptoms and Prevention Breast Cancer - Awareness, Symptoms and Prevention

Breast Cancer - Awareness, Symptoms and PreventionA sample of blood dispatched to a laboratory equipped with FISH Technology will predict or negate with 85% accuracy the subsequent development of breast cancer. Apart from this the Cancer Family Syndromeis a loose association of breast, ovarian, uterine, stomach and pancreatic cancer in a cluster of distantly related families. Before anyone throws up their arms in helplessness, 85% of breast cancer arises sporadically perhaps because of factors well within human control. Hardly anyone these days would be prescribed radiation therapy in the chest area. It should not come as a surprise that community practices and individual lifestyles are potent yet malleable factors. Undoubtedly intracommunity or ethnic group attitudes to marriage, childbirth, inbreeding, must be held responsible for the highest breast cancer attack rates in Parsis followed by Sindhis, Christians and Moslems in that order. Late childbirth after the age of 35 yrs, intra-community wedlock usually between the cousins amplifies the genetic risk many fold.

Changing lifestyles have brought in their wake a situation where young ladies begin menstruating averagely at 12 yrs rather than 14 yrs, plan marriage not before 30 yrs and usually do not contemplate pregnancy before 30 – 35 yrs. Uninhibited sexuality and aggressive lifestyles in metropolitan cities persist under the umbrella of long term oral contraceptive usage and unsupervised Hormone Replacement Therapy. Usage of estrogen alone oral contraceptive pills continuously for more than 4 years and estrogen alone hormone replacement therapy for more than 10 years are scientifically proven offenders.

Little reason why the bad female hormones namely estrone and 8-estradiol should not kick off carcinogenesis given enough time and a conducive environment. Obesity, apart from being a disease in itself predisposes women to breast and uterine cancer so does alcohol when consumed in excess of 3 to 7 drinks a week.

Symptoms

  • Changes in the size or shape of breast
  • Nipple discharge
  • Lump in the breast
  • Continuous pain in one part of the breast or armpit
  • Swelling under the armpit or around the collarbone
  • A rash on or around the nipple

Ironic yet true that despite these being signs of relative advancement, women folk sit on it further for insane reasons like embarrassment, indifference or fear of the ominous.

How to keep check??

  • Monthly Breast Self Examination
  • Pap Smear Teasting and Mammography every year
  • Clinical Examination every 3 years

"Breast Self Examination is an opportunity for the woman to get to know her body and become psychologically comfortable with it."

Be Cautious
Young ladies after they turn 20 need to feel their breasts and the respective armpits for not more than 20 minutes once every month, preferably a week after their periods in the privacy of their bedrooms or bathrooms.

Women who have attained menopause can practice it any same day every month. It goes without saying any subtle changes deserve immediate reporting to a health provider.

Every woman above the age of 35 must submit herself to a breast examination by a doctor or a trained nurse practitioner once every three years. If one happens to be at higher than normal risk by dint of factors elucidating earlier, this practice needs to be conducted annually. The third cardinal life saver is a special type of x-ray of the breast called mammography which is known to discover a lump 2 yrs before it is felt. Since mammography can detect 90 percent of breast cancer in older women, it is currently advocated for use once a year above 35 yrs of age.

A word of caution! Subtle architectural distortions below the age of 35 yrs can play hide and seek with this modality. Breast ultrasound is the investigation of choice in this setting, if one is not to go wrong. Soon, some time in future appropriate response is anticipated in the form of declining trends of breast cancer incidence and mortality in India.

 

Article written for Heal India
Edited and Distributed by DesiDieter

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