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Breast cancer cases rise in Delhi due to lack of awareness

Breast cancer cases rise in Delhi due to lack of awareness

New Delhi: Poor awareness about importance of examination to diagnose breast cancer makes more than 91 per cent women in India vulnerable to developing the second most common cancer among women in the country. According to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS 4) data, only 9.8 per cent women between the age of 15 and 49 in India have ever undergone breast examination. The number is equally poor in the National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi where a mere 11.6 per cent women in the same age group have ever undergone breast examination. Interestingly, the rural women residing in the NCT region trumped their urban counterparts in preventive healthcare practices – 14 per cent women from rural areas have ever undergone breast examination as compared to 11.6 per cent from the urban areas, according to the NFHS 4 data.

"Breast cancer is one of the most prevalent forms of cancer in women across the world. In recent times though, the incidence of breast cancer is rising in the developing world due to increase in life expectancy, upward urbanisation and adoption of western lifestyles. In fact, more women in the urban areas are affected by breast cancer than those in the rural areas. A large number of urban women are well-educated, but the number of women who seek clinical intervention for diagnosis is low – not many realize that breast self-examination alone is not enough to diagnose breast cancer at any stage," says Dr Raka Guleria.

A combination of regular breast self-examination and undertaking clinical evaluation through mammography are considered the effective means for early diagnosis of breast cancer in women. "Women are also prone to avoid breast self-examination (BSE) regularly because they do have any breast problem or do not know how to practice BSE. About half of the women in the national capital rely on regular BSE to detect signs of breast cancer but are less inclined to opt for clinical evaluation and mammography," expert said.

The most common sign of breast cancer among women include inverted nipples, puckering or dimpling of breast size, lump or thickening under armpit, change in size of breast or nipple, dissimilarity in size of breast or nipple, pain in the breast or nipple, discharge from the breast or nipple, and lump in the breast. Those with a family history of breast cancer are two to three times more vulnerable than those who do not have a familial precedence of the disease. Early Breast Cancer (EBC) constitutes only 30 per cent of the breast cancer cases in India as compared to 60 to 70 per cent of cases in the developed world.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mammography screening or X-ray of breast is the only breast cancer screening method that has proved to be effective till date. Women aged 40 and above should opt for mammography. Over two-third of the cases in India report for diagnostic and treatment services in advanced stages of the disease, resulting in poor survival and high mortality rates.

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