Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers in women. In India, the number of women suffering from breast cancer is increasing day by day.
It is usually noticed in women above 35 or 40 years and also has a strong genetic background. It can also occur in males, but the incidence is quite low.
Breast cancer presents in the form of a lump in the breast or bloody discharge from the nipple. It may also present as a lump under the armpit.
Ladies who are aware of these symptoms can easily inspect themselves regularly and if a lump is felt, they should immediately consult a doctor specializing in this field.
Breast cancer is easily diagnosed with the help of a Mammogram and a FNAC or a Core biopsy. These tests can be performed as an outpatient’s procedure. MRI scan is also helpful, but it is expensive.
Once a cancer is diagnosed the mainstay of treatment is Surgery. Nowadays one doesn’t need a mastectomy anymore. Breast conservation surgery is practised in all advance centres. Breast conservation surgery involves surgical removal of the affected area along with the removal of glands under the armpit. This is followed by Radiation to the affected breast to prevent further local recurrence.
Chemotherapy, Hormone therapy, and Immunotherapy are required in selected women where the disease is more advanced or shows receptor sensitivity.
The outcome of treatment is very good provided one presents herself quite early to a specialist.
Even in advanced cases, the disease can be kept well under control for a significant period of time with the advent of newer generations of chemotherapy drugs and immunomodulators which are very well tolerated by the patients.
Needless to mention that a regular self-examination and a screening mammogram are the only means to pick up a malignant lump in the breast in its formative period. The outcome of treatment in these women is exceptionally good.
Dr. Partha Pratim Sen, Senior Consultant – General Surgery & Breast Onco Surgery, Narayana Superspeciality Hospital, Howrah, Narayana Multispeciality Hospital, Howrah and Rabindranath Tagore International Institute of Cardiac Sciences, Kolkata