Don’t ignore a lump in the breast, it could be breast cancer!

 

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among Indian women now. The most common presentation of this condition is in the form of a painless lump in the breast. Early diagnosis of this dreaded condition can lead to complete cure. So, don’t ignore a lump in the breast as it could be cancer.

 

Better half of a Breast Cancer Patient

Family has a huge role to play in supporting a breast cancer patient during her treatment and the most important member is the patient’s husband. My views regarding the role of a Breast Cancer Husband were recently highlighted in Health Spectrum Magazine.

 

13659027_491009547771122_3207114618559416872_n

As a Breast Cancer surgeon, I have seen a dramatic shift (towards good) in the family’s attitude towards Breast Cancer. In my initial years of training/ practice, I had encountered patients, who were deserted by their husbands after the diagnosis.

Nowadays, the scenario is quite different. I see husbands accompanying their wives for all their hospital visits and chemotherapy sessions. This is definitely helping patients cope with their disease in a better manner and I am hoping this trend continues in the future.

Breast Cancer in patients with breast abscesses

In the last week, I have seen two patients who have presented with features of a breast abscess but they ultimately turned out to be breast cancers. Although, inflammatory breast cancers are a known entity and they can present as breast abscesses but this fact is not well known among patients and many general practitioners, which leads to late detection of these cancers.

With this case, I want to highlight some pointers to diagnose these lesions early. A 39 year old, non lactating mother presented to with complaints to swelling in the right breast for the last 3 weeks. She had already taken a course of antibiotics from a general practitioner but did not get relieved of her symptoms. On examination, she had a swelling involving the skin fold below the breast (infra-mammary crease) with swelling and hardness spreading till the lower part of the breast. In addition to this, she had lymph nodes (glands) in the underarm area (axilla) as well.

An USG revealed a lump in the breast associated with fluid collection, which on biopsy turned out to be an invasive cancer. Fortunately for the patient, on further examination, the cancer was found to be restricted to the breast and the underarm area only.

(null)

When should we suspect that a breast abscess can actually be associated with a malignancy (cancer)?

  1. A non healing breast abscess – which is persisting despite antibiotics and surgical management
  2. Breast abscess in a patient who is not lactating. 
  3. Breast abscesses in elderly patients
  4. Breast abscesses associated with hard lumps in the breast

Patients with these symptoms should get an ultrasound and biopsy done to confirm the diagnosis. In India, another entity which should be ruled out is Breast Tuberculosis.

 

Breast Cancer Screening in “mohalla” clinics in Delhi

Yesterday, we had the privilege of meeting the Delhi CM, Mr. Arvind Kejriwal, regarding the idea of conducting breast cancer screening in the upcoming ‘mohalla’ clinics in Delhi.

The AAP government is planning to launch 1100 mohalla clinics by the end of this year and a major thrust in these clinics will be early detection of cancers.

Mr. Kejriwal & Mr. Satyendra Jain analysed a novel breast cancer screening device, which has been manufactured by UE Lifesciences and they agreed to carry out a pilot project using this device in some of their mohalla clinics.

I was personally impressed to see the CM already aware of the burden of breast cancer in our country and I admire his vision to screen patients for this dreaded condition.

IMG_1461

Role of a Breast Cancer Husband

Western statistics reveal that nearly seven out of ten marriages touched by breast cancer do not survive and ultimately lead to divorce. With the incidence of breast cancer increasing in young Indian women, this problem will soon be evident here as well. In fact, during my tenure in Bangalore, I did come across a few patients who were deserted by their families after their diagnosis of Breast Cancer.

Although there is no magic formula for a couple to weather this difficult period, but some of these points can help husbands support their wives during their Breast Cancer treatment.

  1. Stand by her during the treatment & tell her that you ‘love’ her

In a marriage or any intimate relationship, silence is not golden. The strong silent type need not apply for the position of husband, lover, best friend, confidante and supporter of a woman with breast cancer. Your bride, your wife, needs and wants to hear from you. Actions may speak louder than words, and you may take all the right actions, but speaking words brings comfort, reassurance and knowledge of your inner feelings. She cannot read your mind. Being there for her is more than physical or economic security. Words have meaning. And the three most important words in the English language at this time, at this moment, when together you are facing her mortality, are: “I love you.”

  1. Involve her in the decision making

It is not easy for a lady to deal with the diagnosis of breast cancer. Often it has been seen in India that husbands and family members make clinical and personal decisions on their behalf. Although these ladies appreciate some of the decisions but they would love to be part of others, which involve their future.

A simple example is deciding between a mastectomy & breast conservation surgery. Family members err towards the side of mastectomy but in reality a lot of young patients actually want breast conservation surgery. It always helps to consult them in private and then take a collective decision.

  1. Go to Her Appointments

It is not what you do when you accompany her to treatment, but rather the act itself that speaks volumes to her. It also gives you some sense of empowerment. You are more than a helpless spectator cursing the damned disease. You have joined the battle.

  1. Sometimes humor helps

Funny, it does. There’s even a study to prove it, by psychologist Sharon Manne of the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia. Couples who laughed at cancer coped better with the stress of treatment. We know that the act of laughing is itself healing. It makes us feel better and helps us get better.

  1. Continue to enjoy as a couple – she is NOT invalid

Treatment can be grueling and tiring, but you both need to live your life as fully as possible. Continue to enjoy what you enjoy individually and as a couple, particularly the latter. Don’t let cancer put an end to your personal and social life.

 

If you follow these simple steps, you can also become a Proud Husband of a Breast Cancer Survivor

2643188ef24bbac380b539775a7ce32f

 

Article By:

Dr. Rohan Khandelwal

Consultant, Breast Oncosurgeon

W Pratiksha Hospital

A step towards greenery 

Delhi NCR’s pollution is increasing day by day and this is leading to a multitude of health problems among the population. 

According to a report, yesterday was the most polluted day of the year and this is bound to get worse as the winters progress. 

For a better and cleaner future, all of us have to make a sincere effort and it doesn’t need to be a giant leap. Even a small step towards greenery will go a long way in achieving this goal.

  
I saw this boot outside somebody’s’ house during my recent trip to New Zealand and was quite impressed by the idea. We also need to think out of the box to come up with more green solutions for our country and combat the rising pollution.

Go Green and Prevent Pollution!

Talk on Women’s Cancer

W-Pratiksha Hospital had launched a Women’s Cancer Prevention Drive in October, in which they had pledged to screen 1000 ladies for Breast & Cervical cancer free of cost. In addition, regular camps and health talks were planned over a period of 6 months.

The latest health talk was organized at W Pratiksha Hospital and it featured talks on Breast & Cervical Cancer. Women of all age groups attended the talk in huge numbers. I had the privilege of talking about Breast Cancer and the reasons why India is seeing a boom in the incidence of this cancer. This was followed by a lively question and answer session, in which ladies addressed their concerns about Breast Cancer and their apprehensions to get screened.


IMG_1276

 

Similar talks are going to be organized at regular intervals at the hospital and in nearby schools & colleges.