Every year, World Cancer Day is observed on February 4 to raise awareness about cancer and encourage its prevention, detection, and treatment.
According to experts, there are many types of cancers that, if detected on time, can be cured with proper treatment and diet. One such form is breast cancer, the most common cancer affecting women, as such, making it necessary to take certain preventive steps.
Dr Priya Tiwari, senior consultant and medical oncologist at Artemis Hospital, Gurgaon said that sometimes patients do not disclose symptoms like lumps even to their spouse. “Due to delay in seeking treatment, the cancer reaches a stage that becomes very difficult to cure. Breast cancer often presents with lumps, but all lumps may not be cancerous. Other causes of lumpiness are fibro adenomas (benign growth of breast tissue), cyst formation and fullness during periods. We recommend self-examination after 20, and annual mammogram test from the age of 45 for women,” she said.
As per a report by National Cancer Registry Programme, released by The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and National Centre for Disease Informatics and Research (NCDIR), Bengaluru, cancer cases in the country are likely increase to 15.7 lakhs by 2025, from 13.9 lakh in 2020. Among women, breast cancers are estimated to contribute 2.0 lakhs (14.8 per cent) of the total cancer burden.
Changing lifestyle, late marriage, and higher age at childbirth are some factors that make the disease most common.
Breast cancers are curable if diagnosed at an early stage. “The best part of early diagnosis is that one does not have to lose the breast. Nowadays, breast conservative surgery is a part of treatment process. Self-breast examination and screening are imperative for early diagnosis of breast cancer and rule out the myths surrounding the disease. The earlier the cancer is detected, the better the chances for cure and survival,” said Dr Jyoti Singh, Consultant – Radiation Oncology, Paras Hospitals, Gurugram.
But if left untreated, cancer cell can spread further, where multiple lumps can develop in the breast and axilla (armpit). Also, these cells can spread in the whole body. For instance, if they enter the liver, patients can have pain in the right side of abdomen, and sometimes jaundice. It can also affect bones, leading to multiple bone pains, doctors mention.
But the good news is that there are increasing options even for advanced stage cancer. “We have more than one breast cancer trials. We have a trial of a very important drug called trastuzumabderuxtecan. We also have a trial of oral selective estrogen receptor degrader (SERD) for the hormone replacement of the breast cancer patients,” said Dr Tiwari.
Dr Tiwari suggested a healthy and nutritious diet for breast cancer patients. “You should not have any food which makes you nauseous. Small and frequent meals are fine and eat only if you are hungry. If you try to push yourself, it might cause vomiting,” she mentioned.
Even if someone has been diagnosed with the disease or undergoing treatment, it is essential to remain positive, Dr Tiwari asserts. “Research has also shown that early dinner can help reduce chances of breast cancer. Increase intake of fresh fruits and raw vegetables in your diet. Cut down on processed meat, alcohol and red meat, maintain a proper body weight because obesity or overweight increases the risk,” she said.