Breast Cancer: Importance of breast self examination (BSE)
By Dr Shekhar Salkar, Onco-Surgeon, Chief Department of Oncology, Manipal Hospital, Goa
With the average age of breast cancer dropping from 50 years to late 30s, breast cancer has become the most widespread cancer not only in urban Indian women but also the in the rural females. Owing to the lack of awareness and absence of a breast cancer screening program, the majority of breast cancers are diagnosed at a relatively advanced stage increasing the risk of mortality. It has become imperative for being aware about breast health care for all women, and regular breast self examination should be part of one’s health routine to spot any changes in the breasts. The earlier cancer is detected, the better the chances for treatment and survival.
This is how it can affect you
Breast cancers usually occur when some breast cells begin to grow abnormally. These cells divide faster than healthy cells and continue to accumulate thereby forming a lump or mass. The cells can metastasize through the breast to one’s lymph nodes and then to other parts of the body.
According to various research and study, breast cancer usually begins in the milk producing ducts of the breasts and is initially called invasive ductal carcinoma. Another common region where breast cancer can begin is the glandular tissue called lobules which is diagnosed as invasive lobular carcinoma.
Other than that doctors claim that 5 to 10 percent of breast cancers are linked to gene mutations passed through one generation to another within a family. The most well known breast cancer genes are BRCA1 and BRCA2.
Lastly, our modern lifestyle with no exercise, late marriage or no marriage ,no breast feeding and gorging on fast food make you prone to many health issues including breast cancer. The hormonal imbalance resulting from these irregular lifestyle and uninterrupted oestrogen acting on the body is the root cause of the growing incidences of breast cancer in India, which is increasing at the rate of 6 to 8% per year.
Prevention is better than cure
Staying aware and paying attention to your own health is important when it comes to breast cancer prevention. Below is a list of things that you can do for early diagnosis of breast cancer:
• Breast Cancer Screenings
A session with your doctor will help you understand whether or not to go for clinical breast exams and mammograms as you will be able to weigh down the pros and cons of the screening.
• Breast Self Examination
Early Detection of cancer saves lives:
The key to getting cured of breast cancer is early detection. The high mortality rate is due to the lack of awareness about breast cancer and delay in diagnosis.
One of the best ways for early detection of cancer is the Self Breast Examination tests.
Breast Examination does not cost money and takes just around 2 to 3 minutes. For those having menses the breast examination should be done on the 5th day after stoppage of menses. For those undergoing menopause the breast examination should be done on the 1st day of every month. Regular self-breast examination will enable one to notice any sudden changes which should be taken seriously.
A breast self examination can be done by inspecting your own breasts for any potential lumps or other unusual signs by the lady herself
The second best way for early detection of cancer is by undergoing the mammography. One is advised to take baseline mammography test at age 40 and thereafter at intervals upon advice by the
Prevention of breast cancer can be done by just following
•have first child before the age of 30 so the risk of breast cancer decreases by around 20 to 30% .
•breast feeding at least for 6 months but best is 2 years
•at least have two children
• limit hormone replacement therapy for short courses
• Limit Alcohol
Limit the use of alcohol to not more than one drink per day
• Regular Exercise
Exercising regularly will reduce your risk of breast cancer so aim for at least 30 minutes of exercising each day
• Healthy Diet
A healthy diet with fruits, vegetables, nuts, virgin olive oil, whole grains and legumes as well fish instead of red meat will reduce the risk of breast cancer. It will also help you maintain your weight and not consume more calories than you should.
“Women can play a major role, not only in preventing cancer for themselves but also by modifying lifestyle of family members can protect them from not only Cancer, but from many other diseases as well.”