Certain cancers have well established risk factors. Some examples:
Whatever the cause, the urgency and need for regular screening to detect cancers in an early stage cannot be emphasized enough.
Some of the common indicators of breast cancer have been enumerated below. Consult your doctor if you have any of the following symptoms:
Detection of any lump, nodule or alteration in the texture of the breast should raise your suspicion. Such detection can only be made if you routinely examine your breast at least once every month. Screening is the best way to detect such lumps. Once any such abnormality is detected, you should consult a doctor immediately.
Ultrasonography is also performed in certain extraordinary situations: such as, when a young patient in whom mammography was being avoided or when mammography conducted is not confirmatory. Another situation is when a patient presents with discharge from the nipple but without any obvious mass.
Screening is the process of conducting regular checkups and tests to detect cancer in the early stage while it is still localized, ie, restricted to one area of the body and has not yet spread to distant regions. Screening is advised in some cancers like: cervical cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer, stomach cancer and prostate cancer.
Breast cancer is the second commonest cancer among Indian women, and the commonest among women in metropolitan cities like Delhi and Mumbai. According to the Delhi Registry, its incidence is 30/100,000. Presently, 75,000 new cases occur in Indian women every year. It is commoner in urban than rural India. Unfortunately, only few patients present with early disease. Locally-advanced breast cancer constitutes > 50% of patients presenting for treatment in the country.
BSE involves the serial and systemic examination of the breast by individuals every month
after each menstrual cycle and can help in the early detection of small breast cancers
All women above 20 years of age should examine their breasts every month. Learn the
right technique of breast self examination on this link to Wikipedia:
All suspicious lesions should be confirmed by a Needle Cytology or Needle Biopsy. This test is mandatory to confirm the existence of cancer and is required before any further treatment can be administered.
Do remember that biopsy or FNAC tests are essential for the diagnosis of tumors.
However and in cases where FNAC and / or biopsy are either not possible or risky, tumors can be diagnosed by newer imaging techniques and tumor markers. But it may be noted that tumor markers are not a substitute for biopsy or FNAC.
Age: Age is the most important risk factor for breast cancer. The greater the age, the higher the risk .
Personal History: An earlier incidence of breast cancer in a given patient increases his / her risk of getting it again.
Family History: Some patterns of family history are associated with a relatively higher risk of breast cancer:
As given below: (These apply to either your mother’s OR father’s side of the family):
1. Prolonged Exposure to estrogens:
2. Certain Cellular changes in the breast epithelium:
3. Smoking, Diet and Stress:
Smoking is associated with a small increase in breast cancer risk. Diet plays an important role in your level of risk for breast cancer. Avoiding high-fat foods is a healthy choice for many reasons: Being overweight IS a known factor for an increased risk of breast cancer. Stress has not been clearly associated with increased breast cancer risk. But one can confidently emphasize that stress is injurious to overall health and must be cut down.
Clinical breast examination is least frequent in premenopausal (70%), intermediate in
perimenopausal (87%) and highest in postmenopausal (93%) cases.
CBE has a higher sensitivity in the age group of 40-49 yrs as compared to that of 50-59 yrs. CBE is also the most feasible method of mass screening in younger age groups with denser breasts, in situations where mammography is difficult or, in developing countries like India where these cancers occur in younger age groups and mammography can be a costly procedure.