Currently, one in 23 Indian women develop breast cancer, but a recently concluded study states that the numbers are going to double by 2030 –Breast cancer cases to double by 2030: Study – Times Of India.
India is on the brink of a breast cancer epidemic and the question is that is it really prepared to handle this epidemic?
This study highlights some important facts:
- 115,000 new cases of breast cancer are diagnosed each year and this number will double by 2030.
- Indian breast cancer presents a decade earlier than the Western world. This means Indian women in their thirties and forties will bear the brunt of this epidemic. As screening mammograms are not very useful in this age group, it cannot be used as an effective screening modality.
- Increasing longevity and lifestyle changes have been attributed to this sudden rise in the number of breast cancer cases.
There are some more shocking facts about Breast Cancer in India, which have been highlighted by other studies.
- Lack of awareness about this disease compounded by the lack of screening guidelines in the country, leads to majority of the patients presenting with locally advanced breast cancer. A study which I published in the Journal of Royal Society of Medicine, couple of years back, highlights this problem – Patient and provider delays in breast cancer patients attending a tertiary care centre: a prospective study.
- The above mentioned study also highlights the lack of preparedness of the medical system to tackle with this epidemic. There are very few centres in India, which are providing dedicated Breast Cancer Services. These facts should trigger a positive change in the medical system and more emphasis should be paid to develop dedicated breast cancer units across the country.
As it is extremely difficult to develop screening guidelines for breast cancer in our country, I feel increasing awareness about this disease is the first thing which we should focus on, in addition to developing a more comprehensive breast cancer service in our country.