8 simple tips to reduce your risk of developing breast cancer and aid in early detection

Recent data has indicated that breast cancer is the now the most common cancer among Indian women. One in 22 Indian women will be affected from this cancer during their lifetime. A healthy lifestyle can help in reducing one’s risk of getting this disease.
I am sharing 8 simple tips, which can help in reducing your risk of developing this disease and also help in early detection.
1. Regular exercise – at least 30 mins of exercise 4 times a week
2. Avoid smoking
3. Avoid alcohol consumption
4. Over-weight and obese individuals have a higher incidence of breast cancer. Maintain your weight in the normal range
5. Be breast aware – do regular self examinations
6. Clinical breast examination by an experienced breast surgeon after the age of 35 years (annually)
7. Regular mammograms after 40 years of age. Although they just take 10 mins, ladies often decide to skip them. The simplest way to remember this is to ‘gift yourself a mammogram’ on your birthday.
8. If there is a family history of breast cancer, do consult your oncologist to discuss your risk of breast cancer.
#BreastCancer #WorldCancerDay #Cancer
breastcancer
Consultant, Breast Onco-Surgeon
Gurgaon, India

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.


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

Updated Breast Cancer Screening Guidelines

American Cancer Society has recently revised the breast cancer screening guidelines and they were featured in the a recent article in JAMA.

The most significant change has been the age of starting mammographic screening, which has been increased from 40 to 45 years. This change has been made after taking into account the lower incidence rate of breast cancer in this age group. Another factor which led to the delay in initiating screening was the higher number of false positive mammograms observed within this age group.

Recommendations:

  • Women with an average risk for breast cancer should undergo regular screening mammography starting at age 45 years (strong recommendation).
  • Women aged 45 to 54 years should be screened annually (qualified recommendation).
  • Women 55 years and older should transition to biennial screening or have the opportunity to continue screening annually (qualified recommendation).
  • Women should have the opportunity to begin annual screening between the ages of 40 and 44 years (qualified recommendation).
  • Women should continue screening mammography as long as their overall health is good and they have a life expectancy of 10 years or longer (qualified recommendation).
  • The ACS does not recommend clinical breast examination for breast cancer screening among average-risk women at any age (qualified recommendation)

These guidelines are quite different from those of the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) and this is a cause of concern & confusion among patients. The following table highlights the differences between the two guidelines:

Mammography Screening Parameter ACS USPSTF
Starting age (y) 45 50
Screening frequency Annually to age 54 y, then biennially Biennially, beginning at age 50 y
Stopping age (y) For as long as a woman is in good health and has a life expectancy of at least 10 y 75
Total lifetime mammograms if screening continued to age 74 y (n) 20 13
Lifetime risk of dying of breast cancer (%) 1.8-1.9 2.0
Lifetime risk of dying of breast cancer with no screening is 2.7%.

Do these guidelines affect Indian patients?

Well, firstly India has no screening guidelines and only opportunistic screening is practiced by a very small segment of the population. Secondly, there are some studies which say that Indian breast cancer occurs at an earlier age and therefore screening should be initiated early.

These questions be answered if proper trials on this topic are carried out in the country. For the time being, we should lay more stress on creating awareness regarding breast cancer.

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Breast Cancer Awareness Drive

During my training in America, doctors there used to ask me “Why doesn’t India have a Breast Cancer Screening Program?”
Well today, I can proudly say that we are working towards it. You always have to take small steps to fulfill big dreams and that is what we did yesterday by launching the W Pratiksha Hospital Cancer Awareness Drive.
I was happy to see the media supporting the project and giving it the importance it deserves.
We are going to having regular camps in the surrounding villages for the next six months and anyone who would like to volunteer is most welcome.

It was heartening to see one of my treated patients (a breast cancer conqueror) being felicitated during the event. She shared her thoughts with the media as well and told them about the importance of early detection and management.

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Breast Cancer Awareness Talk & Screening OPD’s

Breast Services

To promote Breast Cancer Awareness and Screening, the Department of Breast Diseases & Oncology is organizing a Free OPD & Breast Cancer Awareness Talk on Sunday, 27th September. We will be continuing with the Awareness talks all through October in celebration of the International Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

5 common myths regarding breast cancer!!

Breast cancer is one of the most misunderstood diseases and there are many myths & half – truths surrounding the disease. Whether it’s the symptoms to watch out for or the best age to get a mammogram, what you think of as fact may actually be completely false. Some patients swear that wearing an under-wired bra can cause breast cancer, but the reality is that there is no scientific support for this claim. On the other hand, if you think you’re not at risk because there’s no history of breast cancer in your family, you might be mistaken. Read on to find out how to separate fact from fiction so you can stay safe.

Myth #1: If you have a family history of breast cancer, you are likely to develop breast cancer, too.

The Truth!!

While women who have a family history of breast cancer are in a higher risk group, most women who have breast cancer have no family history. Statistically only about 10% of individuals diagnosed with breast cancer have a family history of this disease.

  • If you have a first degree relative with breast cancer: If you have a mother, daughter, or sister who developed breast cancer below the age of 50, you should consider some form of regular diagnostic breast imaging starting 10 years before the age of your relative’s diagnosis.
  • If you have a second degree relative with breast cancer: If you have had a grandmother or aunt who was diagnosed with breast cancer, your risk increases slightly, but it is not in the same risk category as those who have a first degree relative with breast cancer.
  • If you have multiple generations diagnosed with breast cancer on the same side of the family, or if there are several individuals who are first degree relatives to one another, or several family members diagnosed under age 50, the probability increases that there is a breast cancer gene contributing to the cause of this familial history.

Myth #2: Breast cancer always appears as a lump

The truth!!
Approximately 10% of those diagnosed with breast cancer have no lumps, pain or other indications of a problem in their breasts.
And among lumps that are detected, 80 to 85% are benign. They’re often cysts or benign tumors called fibroadenomas. That said, any lump or breast symptom (especially from the list below) that does not go away should be checked by a breast surgeon:

  • A change in how the breast or nipple feels or looks
  • A lump or thickening in or near the breast or in the underarm area
  • Breast pain or nipple tenderness
  • A change in the size or shape of the breast
  • A nipple or skin that turns inward into the breast
  • Feeling warm to the touch
  • Scaly, red, or swollen skin of the breast, areola, or nipple, perhaps with ridges or pitting that resembles an orange peel
  • Nipple discharge

Myth #3: Deodorant and antiperspirants cause breast cancer.
The truth!!
One email rumor claimed that antiperspirant prevents you from sweating out toxins, which can then accumulate in the lymph nodes and cause breast cancer. But in 2002, researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle conducted a study to address this rumor—and found no link between deodorant or antiperspirant and breast cancer.

A second rumor speculated that certain chemicals in antiperspirants, such as aluminum and parabens, may cause breast cancer because there is a lower prevalence of the disease in developing countries where women don’t use these products. However, toxins are not usually released through sweat, and in Europe, where antiperspirants are not widely used, the rate of breast cancer is higher than it is in the United States. Finally, although a 2004 study found parabens in the tissue of breast cancer tumors, so far no studies have shown that these or any other chemicals in deodorants and antiperspirants cause breast cancer.

Myth #4: Wearing a bra increases your cancer risk.

The truth!

There is no good scientific or clinical basis to support the claim that plain or underwire bras cause breast cancer.
This rumor appears to have started after a book called Dressed to Kill suggested that bras obstruct toxin-laden lymph fluid from flowing out of the breast. However, this was speculation based on a survey and no scientific evidence. Since then, major medical institutions, such as the National Cancer Institute and the ACS, have refuted the claim.

Myth #5: Young women don’t get breast cancer.
The truth!!

While it’s true the disease is more common in postmenopausal women, breast cancer can affect people of any age.
In fact, women under 50 account for 25% of all breast cancer cases, and they tend to have higher mortality rates. This may be partly explained by the fact that younger women tend to have denser breasts, which makes it harder to spot lumps during mammograms. Because of this, it’s a good idea to perform monthly self- breast exams starting at age 20, have a clinical exam by a doctor every 3 years, and speak with your doctor about whether you should start mammographic screening at age 40.

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