Alarm bell pressed over breast cancer rise in state
Source: Chronicle News Service / Soma Sorensangbam

Imphal, October 05 2021: Manipur is among the top states of the country with high prevalence of breast cancer and lack of awareness is one of the main driving forces behind this unsettling situation.

However, there are high chances of getting cured if the disease is detected early and timely treatment initiated, said Shija Hospital, Breast and Thyroid Clinic senior consultant surgeon Dr Ajit Lukram.

Speaking to The People's Chronicle regarding the reason behind the observance of Breast Cancer Month, Dr Ajit informed that breast cancer has the highest prevalence and mortality rate among women and this has been confirmed in studies conducted by world renowned epidemiologists as well.

It was also found that the main reason behind the death from breast cancer is lack of awareness regarding the symptoms, hesitancy in getting timely treatment leading to hiding the condition fearing social stigma, etc.

The observance of Breast Cancer month began in developed western countries with the objective of spreading awareness among the mass and provide early treatment to cure the disease.

In the state, Shija Hospital is organising a free breast health camp from October 11 to 15 as part of the Breast Cancer month to create awareness and also to detect breast cancer among women so that early treatment could be provided.

The hospital will also provide 15 per cent discount on further investigation, if required.

Free consultation will be provided from 10 am to 2 pm daily during the camp, he added.

Dr Ajit, who is a fellowship of North Cumbria University Hospital, United Kingdom, further said that getting cured of the disease depends on the stage of the disease when the treatment begins.

Prevalence rate is increasing in the state too and the main reason is lack of awareness and reluctance to get treatment at an early stage.

Recovery rate from the disease is comparatively high in developed countries like in America, Europe and China.

In India, the mortality rate is around 50 per cent whereas mortality rate in developed countries is around 10 per cent.

Though women in the age group of 45 to 60 years are more prone to the disease, prevalence of breast among women below 40 year is increasing.

The main reason for high mortality rate in the country is lack of awareness.

Often many ignore the early symptoms due to lack of awareness and they only come to hospital in advanced stage of the disease.

Since the disease affects the private organs of a woman, family members as well as the patient herself feel reluctant to visit hospital.

Many even died without a diagnosis.

Most of the patients come to hospital in the third and fourth stage.

In US, Europe and China, their governments organise free breast cancer screening programme wherein X-ray and mammogram services are provided free of cost for women in the age group of 35 to 40 years.

The diagnosis is performed every three years until the age of 75 years.

With this intervention; doctors can identify early cases two years before the symptoms start showing.

Women, who have family members with breast cancer, are more prone to develop the disease.

One of the easiest ways for early detection is self-examination of breast from the age of 16 years and regular X-ray and mammography tests from 30 years onwards, he said.

Breast cancer can be divided into four stages.

The first stage is not symptomatic but remains inside the breast.

In the second stage, the tumour becomes larger and starts protruding near the armpit.

The first two stages fall in the early stage.

The third stage is advanced stage but the tumour is confined within the breast area.

However, in the fourth stage, the cancerous cells spread to the lungs and bones.

One can recover from the disease through timely treatment if it is detected in the first two stages.

Treatment begins with triple assessment which includes personal history of the patient, clinical observation of the tumour and investigative diagnosis through X-ray, mammogram, MRI or ultrasound.

If required, Fine Needle Aspiration Cytology (FNAC) and biopsy are conducted to understand the stage of the cancer for providing the right treatment.

However, in advanced stage, chemo therapy is provided first followed by surgical removal of the tumour and then followed by chemo therapy.

In the early advanced stage, patients are provided radiotherapy followed by five years' course of hormone therapy.

After this treatment follow up investigations are provided for every three to six months and a patient is declared cancer free if the disease does not show up in the next five years.

The Shija Breast and Thyroid Clinic was set up under his leadership in 2013 and 22 per cent of women who were screened at the clinic turned out to have breast cancer.

Tumour is the most common symptoms with 70 per cent of the patient showing the symptom.

The tumour often turns reddish and bleeding from the nipple could also be observed among the symptoms.

Tumour in the armpit area often turns out to be breast cancer.

As per the records of the clinic, 30 per cent of the patients are from urban area and the remaining 70 from rural areas and most patients are older than 50 years of age.

The major risk factors of breast cancer among the women of the state are consuming tobacco, alcohol, obesity, steroid usage, obesity after menopause, genetic conditions, early menstruation & late menopause among others.

Receiving radiotherapy in the neck and chest area is also one of the common risk factors, Dr Ajit said.

He also said that those who have fully recovered from breast cancer have no problem in getting married and having children.

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