Articles on vaginal cancer

On World Cancer Day 2016: Let Us Understand Cancer Better!

Dr. Sahil Chheda, Dentist
World Cancer Day is celebrated annually on 4th of February to deepen our understanding of this killer disease. This year the campaign focuses on Target 5 of the World Cancer Declaration that is to reduce stigma and dispel myths about cancer with the tagline, "Debunk the myths".There has been enough research to validate that food acts as the most promising ammunition to fight the battle against cancer. Keeping in with this year's campaign we bring to you six common queries.1) What is the most common cause of cancer?Cancer is the abnormal growth of cells. There are around 100 types of cancer. The most common types of cancer are - Men: Lung, esophagus, stomach, oral and pharyngeal cancers. Women: Cervix and breast cancers.Cancer has many possible causes, the prominent ones being -Genetics: Certain cancers run in families. For example, certain mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes greatly increase a person's risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer.Smoking: Cigarette smoking accounts for around 30% of all cancer deaths. It is linked with increased risk of these cancers - lungs, larynx, oral cavity, nose and sinuses, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, cervix, kidney, bladder, ovary, colon, rectum and acute myeloid leukemia. Chewing of tobacco, a carcinogen, is linked to dental caries, gingivitis, oral leukoplakia, and oral cancer.Diet and Lifestyle: Research shows that a poor diet and not having an active lifestyle are the key factors that can increase a person's risk of developing cancer.Three things to keep in mind in order to stay cancer free:- Get to and stay at a healthy weight throughout your life.- Be physically active on a regular basis.- Make healthy food choices with a focus on plant-based foods.2) What are the foods that up the risk of developing cancer?Some cancers like that of the stomach have a more direct relationship with food. Foods which should be consumed in moderation to avoid the incidence of cancer are -Processed meats such as bacon, sausages, lunch meats and hot dogs.Choose fish, poultry, or beans instead of red meat (beef, pork, and lamb).If you eat red meat, choose lean cuts and eat smaller portions.Prepare meat, poultry, and fish by baking, broiling, or poaching rather than by frying or charbroiling.3) What are the preventive foods that guard against cancer?In accordance with the most common types of cancers that our country suffers from, the following foods can help:Oral Cancer: A diet rich in green and yellow vegetables and proper oral hygiene has been shown to offer protection against oral cancer.Breast Cancer: Reduction of high calorie foods, increased intake of fruits and vegetables and regular physical activity is preventive.Lung Cancer: Avoid tobacco and stay free from environmental pollutants. Increase intake of vegetables, fruits and beta carotene.Stomach Cancer: Diets high in fruits and vegetables particularly raw vegetables, citrus fruits, and possibly allium vegetables (onions, leeks, garlic etc.), foods with high levels of carotenoid, high vitamin C intake and consumption of green tea helps prevent stomach cancers.4) What foods help in healing cancer and how?Good nutrition is a key to good health. Foods which are rich in Vitamin C, Beta-carotene and Lycopene are known to protect DNA from damages. Research proves that these foods help in healing cancer -Apple: Apple contains quercetin, epicatechin, anthocyanins and triterpenoids which have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that help to lower the risk of cancer specifically Colorectal cancers. The apple peel is the most nutritious as the majority of Quercetin (80%) is found in it. Other cancers in which apples are known to heal are lungs, breast and stomach.Blueberries: Blueberries have great antioxidant power, due to the presence of many phytochemicals and flavonoids like Anthocyanins, Ellagic acid and Urolithin. These are known to decrease free radical damage to DNA that leads to cancer. They also decrease the growth and stimulate self-destruction of mouth, breast, colon and prostate cancer cells.Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Green Cabbage, Cauliflower, White Turnip, Kale, Green Collard: The Glucosinolates present in them is converted into isothiocyanates and indoles on consumption, which decreases inflammation, one of the risk factors of cancer. Beta-carotene promotes cell communication that helps control abnormal cell growth.Cherries: Both sweet and tart cherries are a good source of fiber, vitamin C, and potassium. The dark red color comes from anthocyanins, which are antioxidants.Cranberries: They are high on dietary fiber and vitamin C. They're very high in antioxidant power, most of which comes from phytochemicals like anthocyanins, proanthocyanidins and flavonols, ursolic acid, benzoic acid and hydroxycinnamic acid. Proanthocyanidins and ursolic acid decrease growth and increase self-destruction of several types of cancer in cell studies.Grapefruit: An 18th century hybrid of the pummelo and sweet orange. It is grown mainly in the Americas. Its name derives from the fruit's appearance as it grows: grape-like clusters on trees. Grapefruit contains these naringenin and other flavonoids like limonin and other limonoids, beta-carotene and lycopene (pink and red varieties). Foods containing lycopene lower the risk of prostate cancer.Green Tea: Since ancient times, tea has been used as both beverage and medicine. Both black and green teas contain numerous active ingredients, including polyphenols and flavonoids, which are potent antioxidants. One class of flavonoids called catechins has recently become the focus of widespread study for their anti-cancer potential. Tea is the best source of catechins in the human diet, and green tea contains about three times the quantity of catechins found in black tea. In laboratory studies, green tea has been shown to slow or completely prevent cancer development in colon, liver, breast and prostate cells. Other studies involving green tea have shown similar protective effects in tissues of the lung, skin and digestive tract.Winter Squash/Pumpkins: They contain Alpha and Beta carotene which is converted to Vitamin A inside the body. The yellow pigmented lutein, zeaxanthin helps to filter high energy ultra violet rays that can damage our eye's lens and retina. Lab studies suggest that dietary intake decreases the chances of skin cancer related to exposure from sun. Walnuts: The major actives found in walnut are - Elligtannins, Gamma-tocopherol, Alpha-linolenic acid, phytosterols and Melatonin. Laboratory studies show that consuming walnuts helps in breast cancer, colon tumor and prostate cancer. The studies also show decreased damage to DNA by regular consumption of walnut.5) Do all chemicals, preservatives and additives in foods cause cancer?Additives serve a wide variety of uses. For example, preservatives protect foods against deterioration and prevent growth of fungi and bacteria. Other additives help improve the texture and consistency of foods, keep them flowing freely when poured, or prevent them from drying out. Flavourings restore taste losses or can enhance the flavour or aroma of food. Emulsifiers ensure that oil and water in foods do not separate. Some commonly used preservatives which are doubted to have a relation with cancer are - Monosodium Glutamate (MSG), Sodium Benzoate, Sodium Nitrate and Sodium Nitrite.Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) is a phenolic antioxidant which prevents rancidity of fats and oils in food by protecting against lipid oxidation. High levels of BHA is found to create stomach tumor in laboratory animals. Some other chemicals which are found in canned foods and are known to perpetrate cancer are -Bisphenol A(BPA) can be found in reusable plastic food containers and the lining of food and beverage cans. Research shows that BPA exposure is linked to breast cancer, and has been shown to interfere with chemotherapy treatment for the disease.Phthalates can be found in some plastic food containers and are considered as endocrine disruptors. Phthalate exposure has been linked to early puberty in girls, a risk factor for later-life breast cancer.Some pesticides and herbicides used on foods we eat have been labeled as human or animal carcinogens.Zeranol: Commonly found in the beef industry processing, it mimics an estrogen like action in the body and has been found carcinogenic in laboratory animals. This chemical is banned by the European Union.Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is used to produce food packaging. It was one of the first chemicals designated as known human carcinogen and has been linked to increased mortality from breast cancer and liver cancer among workers involved in its manufacture.6) A lot is being talked about the Mediterranean diet and its anti-cancer properties. How helpful is the diet? The Mediterranean diet got popular in 1990's for its protective qualities against heart ailments. Later it was found to be effective for other lifestyle disorders and cancer. Instead of accepting all the dishes that are offered in the name of a Mediterranean diet we should look for some basic concepts for which this cuisine is revered. These are - good to control weight gain, bad cholesterol and blood sugar.A typical Mediterranean diet includes - abundant plant foods, fresh fruits, olive oil, cereals, wine, moderate consumption of fish, poultry and low amounts of red meat. The main benefit of this type of a diet is that it reduces inflammatory changes and oxidative stress in the body. By reducing inflammatory changes and delaying the age related changes in body it increases longevity and improves health. At least 7 types of cancers are related to obesity and in that context a Mediterranean diet helps to maintain a healthy glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity. The biological mechanisms for cancer prevention associated with the Mediterranean diet have been related to the favourable effect of a balanced ratio of omega 6 and omega 3, essential fatty acids and high amounts of fibre, antioxidants and polyphenols found in fruits, vegetables, olive oil and wine.7) Five tips that one should follow for a healthy lifestyle.Include fibers in your diet for healthy bowel movements. Regular bowels are important for detoxification.Regular exercise is most important to boost immunity and avoid metabolic disorders like diabetes, hyper cholesterol, obesity, thyroid, hypertension etc. Yoga, pranayama are good for reducing stress, improving flexibility and correcting posture.Nuts provides a good source of energy and other nutrients which are helpful. They help in the reduction and maintenance of weight. Nuts are advisable for controlling bad cholesterol. Nuts like walnut, almonds and pistachios are good for diabetics, hypercholesterolemia.Intake of fruits and vegetables provides necessary antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. These help to neutralize the oxidative stress in the body and avoid damages to DNA, ageing.Regular detox through green and herbal teas helps to maintain the balance in the body. Spa and Ayurveda therapies like body massages, shirodhara, chooran svedanam help to relax the body and mind. Lymphatic drainage therapy is also helpful to cleanse channels and get rid of toxins from the lymphatic system.

Understanding Cancer Better

Dr. Sandeep Nayak, Surgical Oncologist
What is cancer?Cancer is the name given to a group of diseases that behave similarly. There is a wide range of cancers which are characterised by an uncontrolled division of body's cells without halting and thereby, spread into surrounding tissues pushing normal cells.Cancer can begin at any place in the human body, which is comprised trillions of cells. Regularly, human cells divide and shape into new cells as the body needs them. At the point when cells get senile or get harmed, they bite the dust, and new cells assume their position. When the organised procedure of cell growth fails, cancer begins. Cells turn out to be increasingly irregular in shape and size, and continue to survive even when they ought to die, and new cells are formed even when they are not required. These cells can multiply without any reason and may form what is called tumours. Cancerous tumours are harmful, which implies that they can spread into, or attack, adjacent tissues. Moreover, as these tumours develop, some cancer cells can escape and go to far off spots in the body through the blood or the lymph framework and shape new tumours a long way from the first tumours.Why worry about cancer?Cancers figure among the main causes of morbidity and mortality around the world, with roughly 14 million new cases and 8.2 million cancer-related deaths every year. In the next two decades, it is estimated that the incidence of cancer will increase by 70% throughout the world. Among men, the five most common cancers in 2012 were lung, prostate, colorectal, stomach, and liver cancer.In women, the five most common cancers are breast, colorectal, lung, cervix, and stomach cancer.Around 33% of cancer deaths can be prevented by behavioural and dietary changes. The risks include high body mass index, low fruit and vegetable intake, lack of physical activity, tobacco use, alcohol use.Read my blogs on early detection of cancer and cancer prevention to understand how to reduce your risk.

How Cancer Scare Can Change Your Life

Dr. Sandeep Nayak, Surgical Oncologist
Coping with cancerReceiving a diagnosis of cancer is probably one of the worst things happening to anybody. But, it need not be that scary. You are not alone. When you are diagnosed with cancer you are facing a total new and unknown world. Whether this is your first time with cancer, or you’re experiencing a recurrence, it’s most important to remember that you are not alone. There are many like you who are going through this treatment and successfully so. Take Emotional HelpEveryone deals with a cancer diagnosis differently. You could approach the others suffering from cancer to understand what they go through and prepare yourself for the future steps. It is better to approach a group than an individual as they provide you a broader perspective. There are many help groups that are actively involved in such activities and help new patients to cope with their disease.  You will be vulnerable at this time and it is important to avoid, as far as possible to make any key decisions about your treatment, while you are in the state of shock. Most people report that they could not retain or remember what the doctor told them.Treatment of Cancer.Many don’t know that cancer can be treated and in many cases it can be cured. Your doctor would advise you a combination of surgery, chemotherapy (injections) and radiotherapy. Sometimes other forms of treatment are advised. It is important that you go through all the subjected treatment without skipping any. It may take a few months to complete all of it. Hope for Cure.While cancer may be one of the biggest challenges you will ever face, there are reasons to be hopeful. Treatments for cancer has become more sophisticated and health professionals continue to deepen the understanding of cancer.Cure is possible for many cancers today. And beside medical treatments you have many other resources to draw on as well for your healing, e.g. complimentary medicine, integrative medicine, alternative therapies, yoga. Your Cancer Mentor, friends, family, your spiritual community or and other follow patients and survivors also there for you, to support you throughout your healing journey.

10 Symptoms of Cancer Which Nobody Should Ignore

Dr. Sandeep Nayak, Surgical Oncologist
Cancer is an unwanted growth of cells that destroys the healthy environment of the body. The fear associated with it is not because of the disease itself, but, because of the delayed diagnosis due to lack of clear symptoms. Here are a list of commonly ignored symptoms which could be warning signs of cancer. Cancers are PAINLESS when they start and so they get ignored by the patient and doctors alike. Anemia: Tiredness in cancer is usually due anemia (lack of blood) and deficiency of nutrition. The cancer eats up most of nutrients in its race to grow quickly. Also there bleeding from cancer tissue that makes one anemic.Blood while passing stool: very often this is due to piles or similar causes. However, cancer of colon and rectum also causes this. When anyone has blood in stool, it is advisable to do colonoscopy to look inside of colon. Cancer of colon can cause change in bowel habit (like alternating constipation and diarrhea)Blood in urine: This always require further tests.  Cancer of kidney or urinary bladder or prostate (among men) can cause blood in urine. The bad part is this bleeding can be infrequent. This infrequency makes patients ignore this symptom. Even one episode of blood in urine needs through examination.Bleeding in between periods (women): Any bleeding that does not follow the usual pattern of menstrual period is a warning sign. Cancer of uterus or cervix can present with this kind of symptoms. Patients with cervical cancer also have bleeding after having sexual intercourse. A patch or wound inside mouth: Oral or mouth cancers are common in India. These cancers start as a patch or wound and progress over months. If diagnosed early they can be treated effectively. Lump or swelling: Cancers of breast and limb begin as painless lumps or swellings and progress over months. Any newly appearing lumps or swellings should be completely investigated. Loss of weight without trying: A sudden weight loss when you are not dieting needs investigations. As cancer consumes most of the nutrition that you take, you tend to loose wt. Loss of appetite and bloating food: this could be because of obstruction to bowel or because of a cancer secreting its toxic substances. Thorough examination is needed to reach a diagnosis. Lymph node enlargement: Lymph nodes are present everywhere in the body and function as filters. Most of the times they enlarge due to infections. The cancer cells also get filtered in this nodes and are trapped. They grow in these nodes and the nodes enlarge as a result of this growth. Trouble swallowing or vomiting after taking food are both warning signs of a cancers in the digestive tract. These need to be evaluated with endoscopic tests to identify the cause. Some patients have only persistent heart-burns which is misdiagnosed as gastritis and treated only for months before correct diagnosis reveals itself. Pain is the last feature of cancer. Do not wait for it.

Cancer Can Happen to Anyone! Just Avoid These

Dr. Rajat Sachdeva, Dentist
Studies suggest that approximately 44% men and 39% women are susceptible to develop Cancer in their lifetime which is scary news! Now, studies have been conducted all over the world which provides some statistics which shows that there are some definitive conclusions which can be related to cause of cancer. There are number of risk which we will discuss to create awareness about the ‘Dreaded’ cancer to help people to get clear perspective about it.SmokingThe biggest factor in today’s time which is considered life threatening is Smoking! It is a risk factor for Lung cancer, Cancer of mouth, throat, tongue, palate etc. It has become a status symbol to smoke and considered being cool, many of which are passively exposed by their spouses and relatives which puts them at risk of danger too. Smoking should be banned at home and office etc places to avoid other people from the risk of developing heart conditions.Chewable tobacco The tobacco people chew and doesn’t causes smoke is very prevalent in Asian countries like India which is no good than smoking and causing precancerous lesions and conditions before converting into cancer. It is equally harmful as smoking. Avoid!AlcoholSpirits generally include Whisky and brandy. But the new studies show that drinking one or two of the spirits or beer can increase the risk of a woman to have breast cancer. Consider to avoid alcohol or if that’s not possible then or if you find that difficult, try and reduce the intake slowly and gradually.Oh! The sunThe actinic radiation in sunlight is considered to causes Keratotic lesions on the lips of farmers who generally work really long hours in the fields; but the melanin pigmentation on the lips protects the malignant conversion in most cases.Environment smogMany chemicals escape from industrial smokestacks and industries including suspected carcinogens. Benzene comes out in car exhaust. Factors those favors ozone buildup and lead to smog alerts may cause these chemicals to build up. In order to prevent yourself from pollution, avoid exercise near high traffic areas and on polluted days try to stay indoors mostly during smog alerts.Lifestyle disordersExercising daily for at least 30 minutes daily keeps weight in control, may reduce risk of several cancers, mostly colon and breast cancer and also helps in preventing heart disease, diabetes and bone loss.Choosing the wrong foodResearchers have found out high levels of the carcinogen agents in French fries and potato chips. Try to avoid charred meat, limit the consumption of red meat to reduce your risk of colon cancer. Cut down on the fatty fish like carp, catfish, bass, king mackerel etc. Always choose a well balanced diet rich in fiber like lentils and whole grains and low in fat along with fresh fruits and vegetables.

Gynaecological Cancer: Do Not Ignore the Early Signs!

Dr. Sujoy Dasgupta, Gynecologist/Obstetrician
Today is the world cancer day and the theme of this year is "we can, I can." Yes we all can battle the cancer. But the irony is that majority of women ignore early signs and symptoms of cancer and do not consult doctors in time. Some of these cancers are actually preventable if proper action is taken.Ovarian cancer What will you do if you feel gaseous distension (gas, bloating), acidity, constipation, change in bowel habit, decreased appetite, feeling of full stomach, weight loss and abdominal swelling? majority of the women ignore these symptoms and take antacids before it is too late. But these are often symptoms of early ovarian cancer and thus if you ignore these symptoms, you are harming yourself. Ovarian cancer is difficult to treat if detected at a late stage. But at an early stage, it is curable. So, don't ignore these symptoms.Who are the women at risk of ovarian cancer - women who are not having a baby, who themselves or have close relatives (sister/ mother/ daughter) with a history of cancer in breast/ ovary/ bowel/ uterus etc. But some women are at a lower risk like those using oral contraceptive pills- ocp (the birth control pills can reduce the risk by 50%) and those who have had tubal ligation (permanent family planning methods).If you have such risk factors, you must not avoid any such above mentioned symptoms. Rather you should consult gynecologist early. Ovarian cancer can be detected by ultrasound, ct scan, some blood tests (ca 125) and in some cases biopsy may be needed. And remember, majority of the ovarian diseases are not cancer but you must be sure that it's not cancer causing your problem.If ovarian cancer is diagnosed, the treatment is surgery (to be done by expert personnels) and most of the women need chemotherapy. Ovarian cancer is common in elderly women but it can affect younger women also. So, all the women should take care of the above mentioned symptoms.Cancer of cervixCervix is the mouth of the uterus. In our country, this is the commonest cancer affecting women whereas it is uncommon in the western countries too. The irony is that women die of this disease whereas it is totally preventable.It is caused by a virus (human papilloma virus- hpv) that is sexually transmitted (so it affects sexually active women). But it has a peculiar feature that actually occurs, before cancer, called precancerous stage - when the cells of cervix show some changes that we can detect and treat. So, if women regularly consult a doctor (when they do not have problems), we can check if she is at risk of cervical cancer or not, by some simple tests (pap smear, hpv testing etc). If such changes are found (that is not cancer) we can treat her so that she does not develop cancer. These methods of detection, before disease occurs or before an individual feels that she is having disease, is called 'screening'.Another method of preventing, is vaccination of hpv, that should be given to the adolescent girls before they become sexually active. It can be given too older women (who are sexually active), although the response is somehow lower than if given at an early age. But vaccination is not alternative to screening. So, both screening and vaccination should be done to prevent this cancer.Even if detected at an early stage, it is totally curable. So, women should not ignore symptoms of excessive vaginal discharge (remember, all excessive discharges are not due to cancer), abnormal or heavy menstrual bleeding, bleeding occuring unpredictably in between menstruation, bleeding after intercourse etc.It is treated by surgery and some cases may need radiation also.Cancer of uterusCancer of uterus is common after 50 years of age (although can occur in early years also). It is the commonest gynecological cancer in the western world. It mainly occurs in women who are obese (excessive weight), having diabetes or hypertension (high blood pressure), not having any baby, who are having personal or family history of cancer in uterus/ breast/ ovary/ bowel.It can be prevented by taking ocp (birth control pils) and controlling weight. In many cases, it is also preceeded by some precancerous changes (hyperplasia) that can be detected by ultrasonography and if needed small biopsy procedure.The common symptoms are abnormal heavy bleeding and bleeding after attaining menopause (after totall stoppage of menses). So, any abnormal menstrual bleeding must be properly investigated.It is usually well curable if treated early - by surgery and in few cases, may need radiation, chemo or hormone therapy.Cancer of vulvaThe external genitalia of female is known as vulva. Cancer in vulva is relatively uncommon but still it can happen, especially those who are having diabetes, are HIV positive or have poor hygiene.Never ignore any symptoms of excessive itching in your private parts. It may be the early symptom of vulval cancer. Some cases, patient may have ulcer or tumour or bleeding.It can be detected easily on examination by a doctor and then biopsy. It is treated well with surgery and some cases, radiation may be needed.Summary: Majority of the gynaecological cancers are preventable. They can be diagnosed early if women consult doctor at an early stage. Majority of them respond to treatment.

8 Ways to Prevent Breast Cancer

Dr. Devendra Singh, Homeopath
1. Keep Weight in CheckIt’s easy to tune out because it gets said so often, but maintaining a healthy weight is an important goal for everyone. Being overweight can increase the risk of many different cancers, including breast cancer, especially after menopause.2. Be Physically ActiveExercise is as close to a silver bullet for good health as there is, and women who are physically active for at least 30 minutes a day have a lower risk of breast cancer. Regular exercise is also one of the best ways to help keep weight in check.3. Eat Your Fruits & Vegetables – and Avoid Too Much AlcoholA healthy diet can help lower the risk of breast cancer.  Try to eat a lot of fruits and vegetables and keep alcohol at moderate levels or lower (a drink a day or under).  While moderate drinking can be good for the heart in older adults, even low levels of intake can increase the risk of breast cancer.  If you don’t drink, don’t feel you need to start. If you drink moderately, there’s likely no reason to stop. But, if you drink more, you should cut down or quit.4. Don’t SmokeSmokers and non-smokers alike know how unhealthy smoking is.  On top of lowering quality of life and increasing the risk of heart disease, stroke, and at least 15 cancers – including breast cancer – it also causes smelly breath, bad teeth, and wrinkles. Now that’s motivation to stay smoke-free or work to get smoke-free.5. Breastfeed, If PossibleBreastfeeding for a total of one year or more (combined for all children) lowers the risk of breast cancer. It also has great health benefits for the child.6. Avoid Birth Control Pills, Particularly After Age 35 or If You SmokeBirth control pills have both risks and benefits. The younger a woman is, the lower the risks are. While women are taking birth control pills, they have a slightly increased risk of breast cancer. This risk goes away quickly, though, after stopping the pill. The risk of stroke and heart attack is also increased while on the pill – particularly if a woman smokes. However, long-term use can also have important benefits, like lowering the risk of ovarian cancer, colon cancer, and uterine cancer – not to mention unwanted pregnancy – so there’s also a lot in its favor. If you’re very concerned about breast cancer, avoiding birth control pills is one option to lower risk.7. Avoid Post-Menopausal HormonesPost-menopausal hormones shouldn’t be taken long term to prevent chronic diseases, like osteoporosis and heart disease. Studies show they have a mixed effect on health, increasing the risk of some diseases and lowering the risk of others, and both estrogen-only hormones and estrogen-plus-progestin hormones increase the risk of breast cancer. If women do take post-menopausal hormones, it should be for the shortest time possible. The best person to talk to about the risks and benefits of postmenopausal hormones is your doctor.8. Tamoxifen and Raloxifene for Women at High RiskAlthough not commonly thought of as a “healthy behavior,” taking the prescription drugs tamoxifen and raloxifene can significantly lower the risk of breast cancer in a woman at high risk of the disease.Approved by the FDA for breast cancer prevention, these powerful drugs can have side effects, so they aren’t right for everyone. If you think you’re at high risk, talk to your doctor to see if tamoxifen or raloxifene may be right for you.

How Is National Breast Cancer Month Making a Difference?

Ms. Samara Mahindra, Dietitian/Nutritionist
National Breast cancer awareness month is celebrated to increase the awareness of the disease and to raise funds for research, prevention, diagnosis, treatment and cure. It makes people more determined to fight cancer and becomes a platform for sharing experiences by finding a community of like-minded people.Health experts have found an increase in breast cancer among younger women. It can be frightening, shocking and a painful experience for most and taking the right precautions are mandatory.It’s time to be on your toes for a mammogram!Following precautionary measures i.e, taking a self breast examination every month and undergoing a mammogram post the age of fifty is essential. Doing this will most probably detect the presence of cancer in early stages and therefore survival rates can increase tremendously.Dismal state of breast cancer screenings in IndiaA WHO Study claims that most women around the world suffer from breast cancer predominantly and majority of such cases in developing countries, get detected in advanced stages.India has a long way in terms of spreading awareness. Even though most of the state government medical colleges are offering free breast cancer screening in urban and rural areas, the number of women showing up at hospitals for these tests are very low. Reasons for a low response is lack of awareness about health and cancer along with the discretion or shyness associated with sexuality.On the other hand…It’s a proud fact that the Indian government has come up with a cancer prevention programme, making screening of oral, cervix and breast cancer for male and female above the age of 30 mandatory.Social organisations like non-governmental organisations, self-help groups and other organisations working at the ground level are trying to focus their efforts to bring success to such campaigns.Sharing your storyThere are breast cancer survivors who are now stepping out and sharing their experiences with the rest of the world. They are encouraging other women to step out and take the right measures in protecting themselves and providing hope to those who have already been through the illness. Such as CARER Program Breast Cancer survivor Shobha Moorjani says,“I can say with absolute confidence that right after my chemotherapy, with the CARER Program I bounced back and fought cancer so bravely that it didn’t affect me that I ever had that disease. I have cleared my first test completely.”Listen to the heart-warming story of Shobha Moorjani at Here.Spread the knowledgeSo if you are going through breast cancer or are a survivor or know someone who has then it’s your month people, spread the knowledge. Here are some ways…Host a cancer survivor partySpeak to your community, school or even your family and friends about screeningRun a marathonAnd for women who are already doing this Thumbs up!

A Few Points About Breast Cancer

Dr. Yogesh Kumar, Ayurveda
Breast cancer is cancer that forms in the cells of the breasts. There are numerous types of breast cancer, but cancer that begins in the milk ducts (ductal carcinoma) is the most common type.After skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in women in the United States. Breast cancer can occur in both men and women, but it's far more common in women.Public support for breast cancer awareness and research funding has helped improve the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. Breast cancer survival rates have increased and the number of deaths has been declining, thanks to a number of factors such as earlier detection, new treatments and a better understanding of the disease.It's not clear what causes breast cancer. Doctors know that breast cancer occurs when some breast cells begin growing abnormally. These cells divide more rapidly than healthy cells do. The accumulating cells form a tumor that may spread (metastasize) through your breast, to your lymph nodes or to other parts of your body.Breast cancer most often begins with cells in the milk-producing ducts. Doctors call this type of breast cancer invasive ductal carcinoma. Breast cancer may also begin in the milk glands known as lobules (invasive lobular carcinoma) within the breast.Researchers have identified things that can increase your risk of breast cancer. But it's not clear why some people who have no risk factors develop cancer, yet other people with risk factors never do. It's likely that breast cancer is caused by a complex interaction of your genetic makeup and your environment.Inherited breast cancer Doctors estimate that only 5 to 10 percent of breast cancers are linked to gene mutations passed through generations of a family. A number of inherited defective genes that can increase the likelihood of breast cancer have been identified. The most common are breast cancer gene 1 (BRCA1) and breast cancer gene 2 (BRCA2), both of which increase the risk of both breast and ovarian cancer.If you have a strong family history of breast cancer or other cancers, blood tests may help identify defective BRCA or other genes that are being passed through your family. Consider asking your doctor for a referral to a genetic counselor, who can review your family health history. A genetic counselor can also discuss the benefits, risks and limitations of genetic testing with you. It's important to remember that the genetic tests help to identify a high-risk individual or family, but they don't definitively predict who will or will not get breast cancer.Risk factorsA risk factor is anything that makes it more likely you'll get a particular disease. But having one or even several risk factors doesn't necessarily mean you'll develop cancer — many women who develop breast cancer have no known risk factors other than simply being women.Factors that are associated with an increased risk of breast cancer include:Being female. Women are much more likely than men are to develop breast cancer.Increasing age. Your risk of breast cancer increases as you age. Women older than 55 have a greater risk than do younger women.A personal history of breast cancer. If you've had breast cancer in one breast, you have an increased risk of developing cancer in the other breast.A family history of breast cancer. If you have a mother, sister or daughter with breast cancer, you have a greater chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer. Still, the majority of people diagnosed with breast cancer have no family history of the disease.Inherited genes that increase cancer risk. Certain gene mutations that increase the risk of breast cancer can be passed from parents to children. The most common gene mutations are referred to as BRCA1 and BRCA2. These genes can greatly increase your risk of breast cancer and other cancers, but they don't make cancer inevitable.Radiation exposure. If you received radiation treatments to your chest as a child or young adult, you're more likely to develop breast cancer later in life.Obesity. Being overweight or obese increases your risk of breast cancer because fat tissue produces estrogen that may help fuel certain cancers.Beginning your period at a younger age. Beginning your period before age 12 increases your risk of breast cancer.Beginning menopause at an older age. If you began menopause after age 55, you're more likely to develop breast cancer.Having your first child at an older age. Women who give birth to their first child after age 35 may have an increased risk of breast cancer.Postmenopausal hormone therapy. Women who take hormone therapy medications that combine estrogen and progesterone to treat the signs and symptoms of menopause have an increased risk of breast cancer.Drinking alcohol. Drinking alcohol increases the risk of breast cancer. Experts recommend no more than one alcoholic beverage a day for women.Other risk factors that have been suggested, but don't play any role in the development of breast cancer include tightfitting bras, antiperspirants, breast implants and shift work.Chemotherapy Chemotherapy uses drugs to destroy cancer cells. If your cancer has a high chance of returning or spreading to another part of your body, your doctor may recommend chemotherapy to decrease the chance that the cancer will recur. This is known as adjuvant systemic chemotherapy.Chemotherapy is sometimes given before surgery in women with larger breast tumors. Doctors call this neoadjuvant chemotherapy. The goal is to shrink a tumor to a size that makes it easier to remove with surgery. This may also increase the chance of a cure. Research is ongoing into neoadjuvant chemotherapy to determine who may benefit from this treatment.Chemotherapy is also used in women whose cancer has already spread to other parts of the body. Chemotherapy may be recommended to try to control the cancer and decrease any symptoms the cancer is causing.Chemotherapy side effects depend on the drugs you receive. Common side effects include hair loss, nausea, vomiting, fatigue and a small increased risk of developing infection.Hormone therapy Hormone therapy — perhaps more properly termed hormone-blocking therapy — is often used to treat breast cancers that are sensitive to hormones. Doctors sometimes refer to these cancers as estrogen receptor positive (ER positive) and progesterone receptor positive (PR positive) cancers.Hormone therapy can be used after surgery or other treatments to decrease the chance of your cancer returning. If the cancer has already spread, hormone therapy may shrink and control it.