Breast Cancer / Carcinoma of the Breast

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What is Breast Cancer?

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women worldwide. Early detection and life style changes help in controlling breast cancer.

Breast cancer, as the name suggests, is a cancer that affects the breasts or mammary glands.

It is the second most popular cancer after lung cancer and is the fifth most common cause of cancer deaths world wide.

On a global scale breast cancer is the most common cancer amongst women. According to estimates, in the 2004 alone breast cancer caused 519,000 deaths worldwide.

Breast cancer incidence increases with age; the older the woman, the more aggressive the evaluation techniques employed. Nevertheless, younger women with breast lumps are at a far greater risk for breast cancer in comparison to asymptomatic women of the same age group, and to older women.

Breast cancer mostly occurs in women over the age of 50, and the risk is especially high for women over age 60.

Breast Cancer

Contrary to popular belief that it is a woman’s affliction, it can affect both men and women.

A combination of enviornmental factors and genes are responsible for this cancer. In familial breast cancers. A mutation in the genes BRCA1 and BRCA2 play a major role in the disease onset.

Breast cancer can be inherited both from either a female or a male relative who may have had the disease or who acts as a carrier of the mutant gene(s).

Breast cancer incidence varies vastly worldwide. It is significantly higher in the developed countries of the world in comparison to the less-developed ones. There has been a surge in the number of affected individals since the 1970s and experts are of the opinion that the indulgent lifestyles of the western world could be largely responsible.

Breast cancer is also found to occur more often in white women than African American or Asian women. Several studies have revealed that the breast cancer scenario in the US is quite different for a for a black women in comparison to her white counterpart. The former is more likely to die from the disease although it is the latter who is more frequently diagnosed with the disease. This experts say is a reflection of the socio-economic and cultural disparity that exists among the races and that it is highly likely that the black woman has less access to screening and treatment facilities.

Breast lumps need to be taken seriously because the vast majority of breast cancers are detected as a palpable lesions sometimes by the clinician during a regular check or by the patient herself. It can also present as non palpable lesions during a routine mammography. It must be noted that the palpable lesions are assessed quite differently from the non -palpable lesions.

Breast cancer is one of the oldest cancers known to man. However, it is only with the modern understanding of the systemic nature disease that effective treatments began to evolve.

A pink ribbon denotes the struggle of the sufferers when fighting the cancer. In 1996 the pink and blue ribbon was designed to create awareness of the fact that "Men Get Breast Cancer Too!”

Breast Cancer - Facts

  • Breast cancer is 100 times more frequent in women in comparison to men. Prognosis is the same in both
  • Most common cancer in women - the incidence rate among females is twice as much as that of colorectal cancer and cervical cancer and approximately three times that of lung cancer
  • Globally, the incidence of breast cancer is the highest among American women
  • 16% of women between the age of 40-60 years have breast-related problems. Of these 40% complain of breast lumps
  • In women over 40 years, these breast lumps may carry a risk of breast cancer
  • However, the majority of these breast- related complaints may be due to benign breast disease
Breast Cancer - Infographic

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Saying incidence of breast cancer [or any disease] is high in western world is meaningless. In India, we do not have proper statistics in any hospital. We do not have well established Biostatistics dept in any of our hospitals/universities. Moreover, we do not have any proper centralized system of collecting such data as they have in the US as NIH. Apart from this, still more than 65% of our population are in rural areas where basic treatment itself is at stake. So, we do not have any rights whatsoever to comment on the western world.

I agree.I have been conducting training programmes for women on early detction of breast cancer.Main focus has been breast sed to about 9000 women over the past 3 years.If there is nothing much we can do for prevention then early detection has to be the main focus.
dr.anita khokhar.M.D.

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