Breast cancer is the most common cancer affecting women in India and is estimated to affect 1 in 28 women in our country in their lifetime. Although the burden of the disease is huge, the silver lining is that breast cancer has very high cure rates, of more than 90% if detected early. October is celebrated worldwide as Breast Cancer Awareness Month and we, at Max Institute of Cancer Care, Max Super Speciality Hospital, and Saket have pledged to spread the message about the same in our community.
It is important to remember that early detection of breast cancer is simple and quite doable if we spread the message of basic breast health awareness, monthly self-examination and screening mammograms above the age of 40 for our women. Most commonly, breast cancer presents as a painless lump or any change in the look or feel of the nipple or the breast. It is also important to remember that breast cancer can affect women of any age be it 20 years or 90 years and even those, who have no family history of cancer.
Breast cancer treatment has evolved dramatically over the last few decades. It entails a coordinated multidisciplinary team effort of not only breast and oncoplastic surgeons but medical and radiation oncologists, oncofertility experts, radiologists, pathologists, molecular oncologists, psychologists, nursing staff, physiotherapists etc. The decision about the kind of treatment, the sequence of treatment, whether we can avoid chemotherapy for a particular patient, whether to use certain targeted therapy etc. are all tricky ones and need a balanced team of experienced oncologists. Today, most of our patients can undergo treatment with mild morbidity because of availability of better surgical techniques such as sentinel lymph node biopsy, better drugs and radiation techniques.
Another extremely vital message for our society is that the risk of breast cancer can be lowered by adopting a healthy lifestyle, balanced diet, regular exercise, keeping weight in check and avoiding alcohol.