Breast cancer is currently the most common cancer detected in Indian women. It is also the leading cause of cancer deaths in women all over the world. Lack of awareness and screening combined with diagnosis in advanced stages accounts to loss of life due to this disease which is treatable when caught in early stages.
1. The risk factors
Being a women and increasing age are most likely risk factors. Other known risk factors are Previously diagnosed Cancer in the same or other breast Family history of breast cancer(close relatives with breast cancer) Early onset of menstrual period (before age 12) Late menopause (after age 55) Not having children & having first child after age 30 Long term use of Hormone replacement therapy Obesity (overweight, particularly after menopause)
2. Screening test
- Have a mammogram every year starting at age 40 if you are at average risk
- Have a clinical breast exam at least every 3 years starting at age 20, and every year starting at age 40
3. Abnormal signs See a doctor if you notice any of these breast changes:
- Lump, hard knot or thickening inside the breast or underarm area
- Swelling, warmth, redness or darkening of the breast
- Change in the size or shape of the breast
- Dimpling or puckering of the skin
- Itchy, scaly sore or rash on the nipple
- Pulling in of your nipple or other parts of the breast
- Nipple discharge that starts suddenly
- New pain in one spot that doesn't go away
4. How to reduce risk
Make healthy lifestyle choices
Everyone should aim to:
- Be physically active, so do regular exercise.
- Achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
- Eat at least 2 ½ cups of fruits and vegetables every day.
- Choose 100 percent whole grain foods (such as 100 percent whole grain breads and cereals, brown rice, millet and quinoa).
- Limit red meat and processed meat. Choose chicken, fish or beans more often.
- Limit "bad" fats (saturated and trans fats). These are found in foods such as red meat, poultry skin, full fat dairy, fried foods, margarine, donuts and microwave popcorn.
- Eat"good" fats (polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats). These are found in foods such as olive and canola oil, nuts and natural nut butters, avocado and olives.
- Limit alcohol intake to less than one drink a day for women and fewer than two drinks a day for men.
- Limit menopausal hormone use
- Breastfeeding is very important.