According to medical specialists from Imphal's Radiotherapy and Regional Cancer Center, RIMS , breast cancer is on the rise in Manipur.
They add that 21 percent out of all female cancers are breast cancer and that cervix cancer has slipped down to an incidence of 16 percent.
These findings were announced by Dr Th Tomcha, professor and head of department of RIMS.
According to the doctor, women are generally more susceptible to cancer with roughly 55% of cancer patients being female. He added that though cervix and breast cancers were the latest health challenges for women, breast cancer of the two, is posing a greater threat, mainly due to modern lifestyles.
At any given time 5-6 cancer patients at the lone Regional Cancer Centre at RIMS are breast cancer patients, vouches Dr. Tomcha. "In the last 2-3 years number of breast cancer cases in Manipur have increased relatively. This is mainly due to late marriages, decrease in breastfeeding, obesity, lack of exercise, and high intake of high fat foot and meat", he informs.
The doctor stressed that breastfeeding is one of the best protective measures against breast cancer. Observing that 90 percent of breast cancers can be detected by self, Dr Tomcha advises regular breast self-examination for women above 20 years. "Any lump will not be necessarily cancer. So confirm with a doctor when a lump is detected", he says.
The incidence of breast cancer in Manipur is common among women 40 and more common among those above 50. Dr Tomcha suggests annual mammography tests.
Another aspect of breast cancer highlighted by the doctor was that this type of cancer is generally hereditary. "Fifteen percent of cancers are hereditary, including breast cancer. If two relatives have breast cancer, the risk gets higher."
Speaking about the treatment, the doctor gave that cancer treatment was responsive. He was quoted: "If treated at stage I, 90% can be cured. If its stage II, 60-70% can be cured and 40-45% can be cured at stage III while only 10% can be cured at stage IV." He added that progression of stages depend on the varying factors and is not universal.
The size, extent of infiltration and spread of the tumor is determined by the particular stage of cancer progression, says Dr. Tomcha. "In Manipur, unfortunately 80% are detected at late stages. However in Western countries the rate of early detection is very high at 80% due to widespread awareness among the general population and implementation of preventive measures and early detection measures," he adds.
The modalities of treatment available at the Regional Cancer Centre, RIMS are surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and hormonal therapy. The doctor rued the fact that in spite of having an efficient treatment centre in the state people often go outside for treatment spending huge amount unnecessarily.
Due to an unprecedented escalation in the number of breast cancer worldwide, the month of October is being observed as international breast cancer awareness month. In Manipur too the month-long observation is being held. In breast cancer awareness programs are expected to be conducted at colleges, markets, and other areas.