Breast cancer is prevalent these days. It is a common type of invasive cancer, accounting for 16 % of all cancers in women and has become one of the leading causes of female’s death. Breast cancer may also affect men, but the incident is relatively rare. Being a doctor, I have witnessed 6 cases of breast cancer among which only three survived. To prevent deaths caused due to breast cancer, it is important that this disease is diagnosed in its early stage. This article is written with an intention to raise awareness about breast cancer and to reduce its mortality rate.
Breast cancer is a malignant tumor, where the cancer cells can even invade into the surrounding tissues and spread to the other distant body areas. Let us acknowledge its symptoms.
What are the Symptoms of Breast Cancer
The commonest symptom of breast cancer is the presence of a lump or a new mass that is felt while examining the breast. However, in initial stages this lump cannot be felt and only be detected via mammography., Mostly this lump is hard and painless but may be soft and tender.
Other symptoms include swelling of a part or the entire breast, pain in the breast which is a however unusual symptom but, may be present. Dimpling of the breast skin, irritation, nipple pain, inward turning of the nipple, any discharge from the nipple except breast milk. A lump or mass may be felt in the underarm and surrounding areas, redness, scaling or orange peel texture of the breast skin, thick breast skin, the lymph nodes in the armpit and neck may also be swollen.
How is Breast Cancer Treated
Treatment of the breast cancer depends on its type and the spread of the disease. The treatment options include surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and target therapy. The five-year survival rate is 99 % if the breast cancer is detected at the stage where it is limited only to the breast.
Self-Examination to Detect Breast Cancer Early
To detect breast cancer at an early stage it is better if you include self breast exam in your daily routine. This can be done in following steps:
- Stand in front of the mirror and look for any unusual change in color, shape and the size of the breast along with the symptoms discussed above. While doing so keep your arms on your hips and shoulders straight.
- Now repeat the same by raising your arms.
- Lie down and feel your left breast with right hands and right breast with left hands. Make sure your touch is firm and smooth. Examine your breast by moving your hands in a circular motion or up and down. If you feel any abnormal mass consult your doctor
- Repeat the above step on standing or sitting position.
How to Prevent Breast Cancer
The occurrence of breast cancer can be avoided if you make certain changes in your lifestyle such as quit smoking and alcohol, reduce weight and include Vitamin A, C and the in your diet. Breastfeed your baby for more than one and half years, avoid long term use of contraceptive pills and HRT pills, try to have the first baby before an age of 30 and Keep yourself active.