I am often asked why does breast cancer happen. And the only honest answer I come up with is "I don't know".
There are risk factors but there is no absolute association of breast cancer with these risk factors’! Not a very confident and inspiring answer but that is the reality.
The truth is that in a developed country like US, 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime, while in India 25-30 women in the urban population and 1 in 65-70 women in the rural areas will be diagnosed with the same. That may seem reassuring but in absolute numbers we are way ahead of America.
So what is it that they are doing right which we are not?
The western countries have a well-oiled mammographic screening programme for early detection of breast cancers. We do not have such as system and considering the incidence of the disease, it does not justify. Moreover, in India, and other developing countries, more lives are lost to breast cancer as compared to the west.
Some things are obvious that they have better access to uniform healthcare and are quite aware of the problems of breast cancer.
How to examine your breasts?
A woman, without doubt, is a multitasker- balancing her home and her work with dexterity unique to her. It is impossible to overemphasize the role a woman plays in the lives of the many depend on her for their day-to-day needs. In the process, she often pushes back her requirements. Her health always takes a backseat as she believes there are better things to do – FOR OTHERS!
Try to Practice this- Breast Self examination (BSE) is an extremely easy procedure. You do not require a special time to execute it as it can be done while taking bath. When you hand slips over your breast, you can easily detect any abnormal area in the breast quite easily. BSE should be performed once a month, or a week after your periods or if your post menopausal then on a fixed day every month that coincides with your anniversary or birthday.
Some breasts can be lumpy or bumpy. You may perceive this as abnormal when you start examining yourself but a trip to a breast surgeon can allay your fears. What a regular breast self examination achieves is quite remarkable: it familiarizes you with the usual undulations in the breast in the same way as you are completely aware of all the speed breakers, curves and kerbs we encounter on our way from work to home even on a dim lit road.
The incidence of breast cancer is increasing every day, and we are doing everything that we can do to turn the tide. It is rather unfortunate that about 50-60%of breast cancers in our country are detected in advanced stages. It is therefore not surprising that more than 50% of patients diagnosed with breast cancer would succumb to the disease. For a country like ours, the only useful tool to tackle breast cancer would be –EARLY DETECTION! For us, becoming familiar with our own breasts and making others around us breast aware is the need of the hour.