One woman is diagnosed with breast cancer every 4 minutes in India, and one woman dies of breast cancer every 13 minutes, making it the most common form of cancer in the country.
Women can follow these prevention strategies to cut back the risk of breast cancer.
Self-examination is the first step towards detecting breast cancer because the earlier it is found, the likelihood for treatment and survival is higher. It is a convenient screening tool that can be done from the confines of your home at regular intervals, preferably after your period each month.
There are two components of a breast self-exam: the ‘look’ and the ‘feel’. This process may is completed in five steps:
Step1: With your shoulders straight and arms on your hips, look for changes in size of your breast, shape and colour, dimpling or bulging of skin, nipple position change or swelling.
Step 2: Do the precise same thing with your arms raised.
Step 3: Any fluid or discharge or secretion from the breast may well be a take-heed call and must be reported.
Step 4: Feel your breast for lumps, contours while lying down; use alternate hands to examine alternate breasts. Cover the entire breast using the finger pads in a circular motion. Remember to follow a pattern so you don’t miss any area of the breast.
Step 5: Repeat the procedure while sitting or standing.
Clinical breast examination and mammograms
While you are doing your monthly self-exam, it is also critical to have a clinical check-up done by an experienced professional once in six months. If you discover anything suspicious during a self-exam it is imperative to consult your doctor to rule out malignancy. Not all lumps are cancerous, hence one shouldn’t panic as the breast could have lumpy areas and most lumps end up being benign. After the physical exam, you will be prescribed imaging tests to clear any doubts.
An ultrasound or x-ray mammography can help evaluate the lump further so that necessary action is taken if required. Clinical breast exams are recommended once you cross 40 while x-ray mammography is done beyond 50.
The risk factors of breast cancer are controllable as well as uncontrollable. The uncontrollable factors include case history and genetic predisposition, while the controllable factors are healthy habits and lifestyle changes. Focusing on the controllable factors will help reduce your risk of breast cancer.
Maintain a healthy weight which can be achieved with a nutritious diet combined with physical activity. Limit intake of alcohol and sugar and avoid smoking, as these are factors that increase toxicity and inflammation within the body. Another good way of lowering your risk is breastfeeding, especially if done for more than one year. Hormone replacement therapy or contraception pills are also to increase the risk of breast cancer in women.
A less prevalent prevention strategy is genetic screening that determines if you have mutations in your DNA that increase the chance of breast or ovarian cancer. Hereditary breast and ovarian cancer risks are now a known quantity. There is an uptick in genetic testing in India, but it is still nascent.