Breast Self Examination; Awareness, Attitude & Practice in India.
There prevails a tendency of negligence that overlooks the obvious and allow manifestations to the worse.
Breast cancer being a cancer of a visible (external to female body) organ, remains distinguished from the cancers of internal body organs. Therefore, it is obvious that the symptoms of breast cancer are visible & palpable on most of occasions despite which females with breast cancer present to us in an advanced stage of disease. In this article, I would dig deep into the prevailing root causes behind the scenes.
Two important reasons that make us myopic towards certain things are 'the lack of awareness' and 'the monumental ignorance'; both being the manifestations of our attitude to life. While we acknowledge that life in this day and age is all about speed and multitasking; one can always find time to be vigilant about abnormal changes in our body, especially external body organs. What we need is the right attitude that will awaken the conscience and compel finding time for oneself. Mind you, nothing at the cost of one's health and if it turns out to be a life-threatening disease like cancer at diagnosis, then it is worthwhile spending time for the early detection of it.
"I am too busy'! 'I was not aware at all"! "I am snow-burdened with family commitments"! "Corporate life is hell, I am onto work 24X7"! "I have no privacy"! One can go on listing the reasons endlessly. There is a genuine texture to all these reasons however most of the females would make it a soft excuse for not being attentive to abnormal changes in their breasts or simply overlook them. For years together, females in Indian families are paid least attention to, whereas they carry a lot of responsibilities on their shoulders. Such circumstances are deterrent in nature; perhaps, females themselves and other members in the family knowingly or unknowingly remain ignorant of her health issues.
Breast Self-Examination is the simplest, highly economical and a time-tested method to find following abnormal changes in the breast. It takes not more than 5 minutes to perform it and it can be repeated at least once a month. Doing Breast Self-Examination after 5 days of the menses is better so that changes in the breast related to menses are not misunderstood to be cancerous. Following changes / symptoms should be checked during Breast Self-Examination.
• Palpable Tumor in the Breast Tissue.
• Visible Lump / Outgrowth in the Breast.
• Tumor Like or Inflammation in the Armpit.
• Inversion of the Nipple.
• Yellow or Bloody Discharge from the Nipples.
• Changes like Dark Spots, Granules on the Breast Skin Texture.
• Asymmetry in the Breasts.
In India, over 2,00,000 new cases of breast cancer are diagnosed every year. Approximately 60% of them are diagnosed in advanced stage. There are many factors like adaptation of western lifestyle, rising incidences of late pregnancies, rising smoking & alcohol consumption in females etc. that are increasing the risk of breast cancer in much younger Indian women. Though advanced stage diseases can be treated efficiently with the help of advanced treatment options, outcomes may not be as good as we would achieve while treating early stages of breast cancer. Early-stage breast cancers are always treated with curative intent as they offer a best chance of cure.
I recommend all females should make a resolution in the new year 2022 that they will park 5 minutes every fortnight, however busy their schedule may be; for themselves and religiously do Breast Self-Examination. Visit our website www.mocindia.co.in to find recommended steps in Breast Self-Examination. Remember, no reason for not doing it is bigger than your precious life.
Dr. Vashishth Maniar
Director & Sr. Consultant Cancer Specialist
Mumbai Oncocare Centre, Ghatkopar & Kemp's Corner.
Appointments @ 9769861787 / 7677434237