INCIDENCES of breast cancer are on the rise in the country. And we can say so, on the basis of a date by Global Cancer Observatory which suggests the same.
As per the Global Cancer Observatory data, nearly 1.6 lakh patients of breast cancer were diagnosed in 2018 with nearly 50 % deaths because of the disease. This is almost equivalent to facing severe cancer pandemic every year just like the virus pandemic that the people of the nation are currently fighting.
However, the figure isn’t the only sad point. What is even more disturbing is that a lot of these deaths could have been avoided by diagnosing the disease in its early stages.
And this can be done with a healthy habit of self-breast examination and awareness about one’s body, which every girl ideally should adopt and know after attaining adulthood.
A regular clinical breast examination once in 6 months, visit to a gynaecologist or family physician and an annual mammogram screening after the age of 40y can help diagnose breast cancer early on and in turn prevent deaths.
And while the warning signs of breast cancer can vary among women, most symptoms involve changes in the look or feel of a breast.
So, in order to get a detailed insight into what the warning signs of breast cancer are, we at DNA spoke to Dr Peush Bajpai, HOD and Consultant Medical Oncology Science, HCMCT Manipal Hospitals, Dwarka Delhi, who listed eight such signs that can help detect this disease in its early stages.
– Breast swelling- this could result in the abnormal contour of the breast/s
– A change in breast size- this could lead to an asymmetry between the breasts
– Dimpling of breast skin
– A nipple rash
– Nipple inversion
– Nipple discharge- especially a bloody discharge
– Breast pain- This is usually if a lump is neglected for some time
However, one must note that these symptoms can be caused by conditions other than breast cancer as well. One example is breast pain, which is more often caused by a benign breast condition than cancer.
Another example is a breast lump. Because breast tissue is naturally lumpy, the key sign to watch for is a change in texture. A lump or mass that feels different from other breast tissue could be a sign of breast cancer (but it could also be a sign of a benign breast condition, such as a cyst or fibroadenoma).
Most of these findings can be detected by a good ‘self-breast examination’ which should be done by every woman a week later after the menstrual cycle.
The only way to know for sure – and receive the earliest possible diagnosis – is to have these symptoms promptly evaluated by a physician and if required, to get imaging done.
When to see a physician?
In general, you should see a physician if you find a new breast lump or breast tissue that feels different from what you’ve felt before.
Even if you were diagnosed with a benign breast lump in the past, don’t automatically assume that a new lump is also benign. It may be, but it’s best to find out for sure.
Otherwise, during a regular clinical visit, a woman should always get a breast examination done once in 6 months.