Breast Cancer: Prevention is the Key

October is ‘Breast Cancer Awareness Month’. Read, get knowledge and spread awareness! Breast cancer is one of the most commonly found cancers amongst women around the globe. Thankfully, it is one of the cancers, which can be detected, diagnosed and treated at its earliest of the stages. Some Quick Facts

  • The term ‘breast cancer’ refers to only malignant tumour found in the breast cells
  • It may not produce any symptoms at its onset
  • Only 7-10% breast cancers are hereditary. Rest can be prevented through a healthy lifestyle and regular preventive checkups

Symptoms of Breast Cancer A lump or a mass is usually the very first sign of this cancer. Such lumps remain fixed to the underlying tissue and do not move in the breast. Other indications in later stages may include changes in breast shape or size, dimpling of breast skin at a particular area, inversion of nipple or once sided abnormal nipple discharge. Stages of Breast Cancer Like all other types of cancers, breast cancer too has stages:

Stage 0 – The cancer is not yet malignant and has not moved ahead from its location. It is also referred to as “in situ” (in place).

Stages 1 to 3 – The cancer may or may not have spread to underarm’s lymph nodes. It falls under the early cancer stage and usually has a good prognosis when subjected to right treatment.

Stage 4 – This is the advanced stage of breast cancer. At this stage, the cancer may have moved and spread into the metastatic stage (it may have spread to other parts of the body). Breast Cancer Prevention The key to the fight breast cancer lies in periodic medical checkups and screening tests. (Screening means testing a woman when she is not even symptomatic). It includes o a ‘self breast exam’ every month (usually after finishing of her periods) and a clinical examination by a gynaecologist in young woman, at least once in a year.

After the age of 40, a mammogram is recommended, once in three years. After 50 years of age, the mammogram should be ideally done every year as with age, the incidence of cancer also increases.