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This October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Women’s Web has curated a list of its very own posts around preventive and remedial measures for breast cancer.
Breast Cancer is the most common form of cancer in urban India, and the second most common in rural India. The more alarming fact is that, for every two women newly diagnosed with breast cancer, one woman dies of it.
The fact of the matter remains, that we only get affected by cancer at large and breast cancer specifically, when a loved one is a victim to the dreaded disease. I, as have all of us, have heard and seen people who have been afflicted with cancer, have successfully braved it, or have fallen victim to it. It hit me most, when one of my closest friends, battled with cancer not once but twice, and succumbed to it the second time around (Read about her fight with the ‘Big C’ here and here on Women’s Web).
We have all heard of the adage that “A stitch in time saves nine”. The same holds true for Breast Cancer. The more you know, the better informed you are, the more are the chances that you will be equipped to deal with this gruesome form of cancer, for your own self or for your loved ones.
October is the Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and we at Women’s Web have put together a list of informative posts which talk about crucial aspects of Breast Cancer – the importance of early detection, knowledge of the various forms of testing, the courses of treatment and its side effects and the way life pans out after successfully battling it. Please click on the links for the relevant articles.
So, read on, and make sure you share it with everyone you know, because you never know whose life you might end up saving in the process.
Most of us fail to go in for doctor recommended annual health checkups, and tend to push small aberrations in our body under the carpet. In such cases, self-examination is the best way to detect breast cancer at an early stage. So, does early detection affect the treatment and outcome of breast cancer?
Doctors definitely think so. The scope of relapse is significantly lower in early stage patients. Doctors also state that in some cases, surgery can do the trick, doing away with the painful process of chemotherapy or radiations.
Dr Randeep Singh, Medical Oncologist at Max Hospitals, in an exclusive interview with Women’s Web, talks about the role of self-examination in early detection and recommends it as the, “only way in which women can bring the signs and symptoms of breast lumps to the notice of a health care provider at the earliest”.
If you feel your heart sink while in the process of self-examining your breasts, if you feel a lump erupting, don’t jump the gun. Doctors recommend going in for a mammogram and subsequently, a clinical breast examination, because all lumps may not be malignant. A mammogram, if done in a timely manner, could reduce mortality by 28-45%.
The other outward signs of breast cancer include a painless progressive lump, bloody nipple discharge, change in shape or size of breast/nipple and a swelling in the underarm; and necessitate a mammogram.
Dr Kumar Deep Dutta, Medical Oncologist at Tata Memorial Hospital, talks to Women’s Web about the importance of mammograms in early detection of breast cancer. He recommends that women with an annual history of breast cancer, should take the annual Mammogram irrespective of age. This also includes women who have never borne children and are at a substantial risk.
Once the doctor has confirmed that one has breast cancer, it is important to take a well-informed decision about the course of treatments and the factors to consider while evaluating them.
Breast Cancer can be dealt with by following a treatment path which involves a mix of local therapy (surgery and radiotherapy) and systemic treatment (chemotherapy, hormonal and targeted therapy).
The mix of treatment depends on several factors such as age of the patient, menopausal status, grade of the disease and whether the patient wishes to go in for breast conservation or mastectomy. Dr Nilesh Lokeswar, a Consultant Oncologist based out of Mumbai, speaks to Women’s Web about the modes of treatment of breast cancer, the associated costs and side effects, factors to consider and repercussion of treatments on life post-cancer.
It is important to discuss about the psychological fallouts of breast cancer, to acknowledge the devastating effects of the diagnosis and treatment, and ways in which patients and care-givers can deal with this. If mastectomy is required, it becomes even more sensitive, since it may lead to body image issues and perceptions of loss of sexuality.
In case your loved one is dealing with breast cancer, you must read through this interview with Dr. Radheyshyam, Medical Oncologist with HCG Hospital, Bangalore. He talks at length about breaking the news to a patient, the common reactions of patients when they receive the news, and ways to deal with it, especially those of denial and depression. He also recommends joining cancer support groups such as this.
Dealing with a deadly monster such as breast cancer can take a physical and emotional toll on anyone, and crush you to bits. There is another side to it, though. Emerging victorious out of an arduous treatment can help re-jig your priorities as it has for Neeti, who runs her own NGO, ‘Yes to Life‘ towards the cause of breast cancer. Her first piece of poetry which she wrote while undergoing her treatment is soulful and poignant:
I looked outside the window
I wondered how it happened to me
I looked for strength outside
My God said you have it within
I asked Him for devotion
I felt His blessings as deep as the ocean
I touched His lotus feet
My God hugged me and made me complete
I thank God every second of my life
For else I couldn’t have won this strife
I am no more scared of the future
As I have Him for my tutor.
We are also super inspired by Ranjeetha Vinil, the founder of Saraathi Healthcare, who went from being a breast cancer survivor to a healthcare entrepreneur.
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Image source: flickr