Towards Breast Cancer Awareness: There’s a lot we can do, if Aware!
Breast cancer awareness is very relevant and all of us related to healthcare need to highlight the importance of screening through all modes available, especially social media and creating awareness amongst youngsters as they can be the medium who can propagate it more vociferously. The influencers of social media should be talking about breast cancer scientifically with inputs from medical fraternity.
Among urban women, breast cancer is the most commonly occurring cancer, affecting 1 in every 4000 women in India. The unfortunate part is that more women, that is, 1 out of 2 affected die in our country die compared to 1 out of 4 in the western world, the reasons for which include late detection due to lack of awareness and poor preventive programs.
Moreover, there is a rise in instances of breast cancer among young women as well as an increased incidence of triple negative breast cancer which is resistant to treatment.
So, what should a country like ours which has other problems like malnutrition, communicable diseases, high maternal and infant mortality, anemia, do?
We should create awareness modules, conduct workshops in schools, colleges and workplaces. Ours is a world where the perception of female anatomy is more sexual than biological, it is important for young girls and women to know how and when to examine themselves, and to know when to and who to talk to when they experience discomfort and pain.
Robust training of clinicians and paramedical workers for clinical breast examination should be created and should be mandatorily done.
Every clinician should offer breast examination irrespective of the complain that a patient has come to you with.
Women in pregnancy should definitely be spoken to about breast cancer and how they should be doing screening sometimes depending on individual family risks.
Also diet weight management early pregnancies breast feeding and their contribution to prevention should be highlighted.
Last but not the least people should be made aware that screening with mammography does not always increase the risk of breast cancer and the radiation involved is miniscule.
Many times, people say I don’t have any obvious lumps I am ok again it is a wrong thought process early detection with screening modalities identifies cancer before it is at a higher stage.
Government can contribute by offering these screening programs at cheaper rates.
Dr. Jayasree Sundar
Director – Obstetrics & Gynecology
Madhukar Rainbow Children’s Hospital and BirthRight, Malviya Nagar, Delhi