October is the Breast cancer awareness month.
Two years back, my mom came to visit me. On the morning of the day, she had to leave, she casually told me, “Sometimes i feel a strange sensation in my right breast.” Immediately, I examined her and felt a lump in her breast. I took her for FNAC test to the only lab open in that area ( that being a sunday and she had to go that very night). The test was inconclusive, but i being employed in the top notch referral labs of my country, got opinions from best pathologists and decided to call her back.
We got her operated in next 15 days. Luckily, it was a Stage I cancer, and today 2 and half years later, she is symptom free. She goes for a regular checkup and takes her medicine on time. I am a doctor, so I could get her treated early.
But there are many still especially in developing economies and third world countries who cannot get timely access. At Dr Lal Path labs, New Delhi, we used to see Stage 3/4 cancers in females as young as 25.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in females. It is the second leading cause of cancer death in females. Even males can get a breast cancer, though it is much more common in females. The risk of getting breast cancer goes up with age. Here are a few tips to remain aware of how we can detect an early cancer.
Breast Self examination
Adult women of all age group should perform breast self examination at least once a month.
Breast self exam can be done as follows
- In the shower – Using the pads of your fingers, move around your entire breast in a circular pattern moving from the outside to the center, checking the entire breast and armpit area. Check both breasts each month feeling for any lump. Notice any changes and get lumps evaluated by your doctor.
- In front of a mirror -Visually inspect your breasts with your arms at your sides. Next, raise your arms high overhead.Look for any changes in the contour, any swelling, or dimpling of the skin, or changes in the nipples. Next, rest your palms on your hips and press firmly to flex your chest muscles. Left and right breasts will not exactly match—few women’s breasts do, so look for any dimpling, puckering, or changes, particularly on one side.
- Lying Down -When lying down, the breast tissue spreads out evenly along the chest wall. Place a pillow under your right shoulder and your right arm behind your head. Using your left hand, move the pads of your fingers around your right breast gently in small circular motions covering the entire breast area and armpit.Use light, medium, and firm pressure. Squeeze the nipple; check for discharge and lumps. Repeat these steps for your left breast.
Mammogram is a type of low radiation X-ray to examine the breast tissue for any suspicious areas. Mammograms can at times detect a lump before it can be felt.
Screening mammograms are recommended between 50 to 74years, every 2 years.
If you have a strong family history i.e cancer in mother at age less than 50, consult your doctor earlier for mammograms.
Early Warning Signs
Please visit your doctor, if you notice any lump, changes in skin or appearance of breast, nipple discharge or pain.
There are rumors that bra causes breast cancer, but there are no scientific studies to prove that. However, going braless at least while sleeping, especially removing the padded and wired ones while going to sleep gives you a good night sleep.
Another, common myth is that perspirants and deodorants cause breast cancer. Again, there is no conclusive evidence for the same.
What can we do?
Maintain healthy habits
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Stay physically active
- Eat fruits and vegetables
- Do not smoke
- Limit alcohol consumption
Let’s Spread awareness about Breast Cancer.
Early detection is the best protection.