Cancer of Breast has become a global issue, much beyond a disease; because of its rapidly rising incidences across the world. What used to be a disease commonly found in western female population is on a verge of becoming a health crisis in Indian subcontinent.Increasing urbanization, westernization of the lifestyle, increasing trend of 'post-30' pregnancies, ignorance towards breast-feeding knowingly or unknowingly, rising alcohol consumption among females etc. and many such factors bring about the victimhood to females suffering with breast cancer.
Over 2,00,000 new cases of breast cancer are diagnosed in India every year. Marked difference between the breast cancer cases presenting in the west as against those presenting in India is that 60%-70% of them are diagnosed in advanced stage and therefore, the intensity, cost and time required for treatment increases significantly.
With the advancements in medical science and availability of newer and efficient medicines, offering longer and quality life to these females suffering with breast cancer has become possible. However, patients have to be prepared and committed to completion of prescribed treatment without being distracted or compelled to discontinue by the physical, mental and financial hazards that are inevitable while on the treatment. This needs a monumental support system that can protect patient's commitment to treatment.
Such efficient support system is found inbuilt in societies with strong family and social values, typically characteristic of an Indian culture; and it plays a very important role in the life of cancer patients. Culturally influenced behaviors like treating elders in the family respectfully and with empathy, looking after them during their old age or illnesses, extending help and support to family members during difficult times are the pillars of this familial support system. Philanthropy, helping weaker sections of the society are also the social values that communities in India follow religiously to the best of their capacity, beyond their family commitments.
The state of cancer patients while on treatment demands empathy, mental strength, support in terms of disease and treatment related information, fulfilment of their need for food and medicines. It is a duty of close and distant family members to meet these demands with the sense of responsibility. Family members should also ensure financial security and stability to patients and consciously create a positive environment around them. It is a joint responsibility of the treating oncologists (cancer physicians), family members of patients, relatives and friends to help patient in this regard and support the cause of offering longer & quality life to cancer patients.
I must mention that many charitable trusts and philanthropists are also the active promoters of this support system, with the unconditional donations and the other philanthropic deeds they undertake. Numerous beneficiaries of their donations and deeds will definitely advocate my claim. Many studies globally support the existence and positive impact exerted by this support system on recovery and overall well-being of cancer patients.
I congratulate all the actors of this support system for their unparallel contribution to lives of cancer patients and I appeal to all the females to be vigilant about abnormal changes in their breasts and report them to doctors without any delay.
Remember, early detection is the best protection!
Dr. Sonal Dhande
- MD DNB Consultant Cancer Specialist
- Hope-Mumbai Oncocare Centre, Nashik
- 9322949845 | 0253-2510127
- 20th September, 2023
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