Breast cancer is the most common cancer in India. It is the leading cause of cancer mortality in India. The incidence of breast cancer is increasing sharply due to changes in lifestyle and population demographics. Alcohol, smoking, obesity, lack of physical exercise, late pregnancy, avoiding breastfeeding, hereditary factors, etc. are common risk factors of the disease.
Breast cancer can be detected early if appropriate screening methods in the form of monthly self-breast examination and a yearly mammogram is done in females of 50 to 75 years of age. Any symptoms in the form of a breast lump, change in size or shape of breast/nipple, puckering of the skin, breast discharge should be reported to the doctor at earliest.
Once there is suspicion of breast cancer then a mammosonogram and biopsy are planned. Once cancer is confirmed cross-sectional imaging is done to confirm the stage. Also, immunohistochemistry is done to know hormone receptor status and HER2 amplification. After all these, investigations are done to look for fitness for treatment.
Treatment of breast cancer depends on the stage of the tumor. Surgery, radiotherapy and systemic therapy in the form of chemotherapy, hormone therapy, targeted therapy are treatment modalities available for the management of breast cancers. Early breast cancer is treated by surgery followed by adjuvant systemic treatment. Locally advanced breast cancer changes by chemotherapy followed by surgery followed by radiation. Metastatic breast cancer is treated by systemic therapy.
Prognosis of breast cancer is based on stage. Stage I disease has survival of more than 90% which drops down to a 5-year survival of 20% in stage IV. Hence screening, early reporting of symptoms, prompt diagnosis and appropriate treatment can help us tame this menace.
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