Breast Cancer Awareness: Time To Go Pink!

Written By Hajra Khatoon, Awareness Story

October is known for many things - for global handwashing day, for Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday, but what it will be now known for is probably being the Pink Month!

Pink Month is associated with the Breast Cancer Awareness Month. A whole month dedicated to awareness related to a form of cancer that is rapidly growing due to ignorance and delay in diagnosis. Though many detected cases in the US have high chances of treatment due to early diagnosis, treatment plans and awareness among patients; the scenario in India is not the same. Most of the cancer cases go undetected and those that are, run into problems due to extreme lack of awareness.

A LITTLE IN NUMBER

Here’s a little number proof to show you why we need to taking breast cancer awareness seriously in our country.

  • Breast Cancer is the most common form of cancer in India and is the second most common form of cancer in rural areas.
  • It accounts from around 25 to 30 % of cancer in females in cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Bhopal, Kolkata, Chennai, Ahmedabad.
  • Compared to data collected over the past 30 years, breast cancer has seen a steady rise in the population between the age group 25 to 40 years of age.
  • Even after detection, the overall cancer survival rate in India is not more than 60 % which is disturbing because countries, like the US are seeing a close to 90% survival rate.

SO WHAT IS BREAST CANCER?

As the name suggests, cancer or malignant tumor that starts in the tissues of the breast is known as breast cancer. There are two kinds - one that originates in the tubes that carry milk from the breast to the nipple and the other kind is the one that starts in the parts of the breasts called lobules which produce milk.

WHAT SHOULD I BE DOING?

Here are some facts, mixed with information to make sure you are more aware about what should be done:

  • SCREENING : Finding out if there is any problem or not

    Since early detection is a major problem and issue in India, the first thing you should be doing is to go get yourself screened. Not many of us know the symptoms and the consequences so the smart thing to do is get yourself evaluated - you don’t have to be waiting for the symptoms to occur. Go for a cancer screening just to find out if there is anything to worry about or not. Remember, cancer goes through a series of stages - the earlier the stage, the better the chances of treatment; the earlier the detection, the better the chances of knowing what to do further.

  • SELF BREAST EXAMINATION

    As implied, it is the process of looking at, touching and feeling your breasts for any problems. It is recommended that women over 20 do a monthly self examination. Women in their 20s and 30s are advised to have a clinical exam (Mammography) done by a physician at least once every three years and women over 40 should get a clinical exam done every year. The process is painless, easy to do and is effective in knowing any abnormalities as soon as they occur. Here is an article to show you how it is done.

  • KNOW YOUR FAMILY HISTORY

    There is a hereditary element in breast cancer - so knowing your family medical history is always the best thing to do. If there have been cases, then the screening is better done as soon as you are in your 20s. Get in touch with your doctor and consult on what screening is best for you.

  • NOTICE BREAST CHANGES

    There are some particular symptoms you should look out for - change in breast shape, pulling in nipples or other parts of the breast, nipple discharge that starts suddenly, swelling, warmth, darkness of breast, lump or hard know in the breast of in the underarm area, itch, sore or rash on nipple. Respond to symptoms by getting yourself checked. It might not be cancer, but it is always better to stay careful.

  • HEALTHY LIFESTYLE

    One thing that never goes out of fashion - keeping your weight under check. Eating nutritious food, having a well balanced diet, regular exercise and limiting alcohol intake are things one needs to keep in mind. Also, women should be limiting use of postmenopausal hormones.

The first step towards a better healthier lifestyle is awareness and breast cancer still runs into a lot of awareness issues in our country. Be aware, get yourself and encourage your family and friends to go for their screening too. It only takes a short time and it helps you take the first step towards beating cancer!

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