October is breast cancer awareness month, an annual campaign to educate people about breast cancer. Breast cancer is the most prevalent form of cancer. This disease has become a major problem all across the world including in India. Breast cancer is characterized by the uncontrolled growth of cells, which results in the formation of lumps within the breast. It is one of the treatable forms of cancer. If not detected early, it can be a life-threatening disease as it can also spread to other parts of the body.
What are the symptoms?
Any change in the size or shape of the breast.
A new lump in the breast or underarm.
Pain in any area of the breast.
Nipple discharge other than breast milk (including blood).
What are the risk factors?
Age: As women get older, they are at higher risk of breast cancer. Most breast cancers is found in women who are in 50 years or older.
Family History: Women whose mothers or sisters had breast cancer carry a higher risk of developing the disease. Having changes in the BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 genes.
Diet and lifestyle choices: Women who smoke, eat high-fat diets, and drink alcohol are more at risk of developing breast cancer.
Radiation Exposure: Frequent exposure to X-Rays and CT scans may raise a woman's chance of developing breast cancer.
Estrogen exposure: Women who started having periods earlier or entered menopause later than usual are at a higher risk of developing breast cancer. This is because their bodies have been exposed to estrogen for a longer duration.
Tips for Breast Cancer Prevention
It is important to self-examine your breasts. Women should be aware of how their breasts normally look and feel. If you feel any change, then consult the doctor.
It is advisable for women who are around 40 to get their mammography done. Mammography is a simple radiographic technique that helps in detecting irregularities in breast tissue.
The addition of vegetables and fruits to your diet helps in maintaining healthy body weight.
For new mothers, it is advisable to breastfeed their child at least for one year.
People need to spread awareness about breast examination, beginning from 20 years of age, and regular screening from a qualified doctor, so that it can be detected early and treated successfully.
The Pink Initiative is a Mumbai-based NGO working towards generating awareness about breast cancer in laymen. You can learn more about them at thepinkinitiative.org