“Women should take charge of their health, get periodic check-ups, seek support when needed, and most importantly, reiterates that cancer is not a bad word that needs to be kept under wraps” are the words of Sonali Bendre, an Indian actress who spoke about her battle with cancer.
Another Veteran actress Mumtaz, turned 71 on July 31, 2018 after winning over the battle against cancer after being diagnosed & treated in her 50s. The actress has always been known as one of the chirpy, bubbly, but powerful heroines of Bollywood. She has given many memorable performances in the films like Khilona, Apna Desh, Roop Tera Mastana and others.
The month of October is dedicated to spreading breast cancer awareness all over the country. The World Health Organisation estimates that by 2020 every family in India will have a cancer patient.
Before screening ensure that the doctor you select knows how to calculate the risk of breast cancer, how to go about screening and how to interpret the results. The best way to go about screening is, gather several friends, fix up an appointment with the doctor, and do it all together on the same day.
Who are at an increased risk of developing breast cancer?
Following women have a higher than average risk of developing breast cancer:
- Family History: One or more family member (blood relation) has a history of breast or ovarian cancer.
- Genetic Predisposition: One or more family member (blood relation) is known to harbour a ‘genetic’ abnormality causing breast cancer. This significantly increases the risk of developing a breast cancer
- Previous Radiation Therapy to chest wall: If a woman has received radiation therapy to chest wall for any cause, she stands an increased risk of developing breast cancer
High-risk factors of developing breast cancer can be calculated by GAIL model, for women above 35 years of age. If the 5-year risk of developing a breast cancer is greater than 1.7%, the women are at an ‘increased’ risk of developing breast cancer and must follow the ‘increased risk’ guidelines. If the 5-year risk is less than 1.7%, the woman is at a ‘normal’ risk for breast cancer and may follow the ‘normal risk’ guidelines.
Above all a woman should be made aware of all possible changes that can occur in a breast when a cancer develops in the breast. In case of women between 20-40 yrs. of age clinical breast examination should be done every 1 to 3 years. Every year may sound impractical, but a visit to a doctor just once every three years should not be a problem. For those above 40 years of age, the yearly examination by a qualified and trained medical personnel is a must.