Breast Cancer is a malignant tumor that starts in the cells of breasts. Malignant tumors are cancerous and are made up of cells that grow out of control & spread to other parts of the body. Usually Breast Cancer begins in the cells of the lobules, which are milk-producing glands or the ducts that act as passage from which milk is drained to the nipple. Less commonly known, Breast Cancer can also begin in the stromal tissues, which include the fatty and fibrous connective tissues of the breast.
Breast Cancer is currently the leading form of Cancer among Indian women. About 1.3 lakh fresh cases of Breast Cancer are reported in India every year, which has increased due to lack of awareness among people. It is estimated that 1 in 28 women is prone to develop Breast Cancer during her lifetime. Moreover, an age shift has been noticed recently among women who are diagnosed with this disease – approximately 61% of Indian women diagnosed with Breast Cancer are in the age group of 35-50 years.
Despite being a serious disease, which is on a rise these days, not many women are aware that early detection and regular breast screening can do wonders in preventing its occurrence. Every women above 25 years of age should do regular Breast Self-exam once every month and look for symptoms like:
- Swelling in the breast
- Skin irritation or dimpling
- Breast pain
- Nipple pain or the nipple turning inward
- Redness, scaliness, or thickening of the nipple or breast skin
- A nipple discharge other than breast milk
- A lump in the underarm area
Though it is more commonly found in females, but males too can get Breast Cancer. Male Breast Cancer cases constitute 1% of all the Breast Cancer Cases. Having a family history of Breast Cancer can also put you at a higher risk of developing Breast Cancer. Besides that, radiation exposure, obesity and hormonal imbalance are some other risk factors.
However, healthy habits may help reduce your risk of developing Breast Cancer, such as:
- Exercise at least three times per week
- After the age of 40, have an annual mammogram
- Perform your breast self-exam every month
- Take any lumps or Breast change seriously
- Limit your alcohol consumption to 2-3 drinks per week
- Get plenty of sleep every night and stay stress-free
We all know that early detection is the best protection and can increase the chances of survival in 80% of the cases. Many women diagnosed with it turn into its victims due to their ignorance and unawareness. Moreover, there is a social stigma associated with Breast Cancer as people still hesitate to openly talk about it. This creates a vicious cycle of fear and misinformation among masses. It’s time we get rid of our inhibitions, raise awareness about avoidable cancer risks and importance of early detection.