Never ignore the lump!
An uncontrolled and malignant growth of cells in the body is known as cancer. These cells either grow or spread affecting nearby areas and organs. And breast cancer is one such development of cancer from breast tissue. “When these glands are cancerous they gradually extend to other organs,” informed Dr Sudip Shrestha, Senior Consultant Medical Oncologist, Chairman, Nepal Cancer Hospital and Research Centre, Harisiddhi, Lalitpur. Effects of breast cancer can be prevented if attention is given on time.
According to the report published by GLOBOCAN, 2012 breast cancer is the second most common cancer in the world and by far the most frequent cancer among women with an estimated 1.67 million new cancer cases diagnosed in 2012 (25 per cent of all cancers). It is the most common cancer in women both in more and less developed regions with slightly more cases in less developed (8,83,000 cases) than in more developed (7,94,000) regions.
In breast cancer there is no pain in the breast(s). It is asymptomatic in the early stage. However, a painless lump can be felt in the breast(s). This is why women must be conscious about the occurrence of such lumps. If timely treatment isn’t done in the initial stage the lump will increase. One can even see such lumps on armpit and in areas around. Pores too can be seen. Nipple(s) moves inside. Change in skin colour is another symptom. “As cancer increases problems can be seen in organs where it spreads,” informed the doctor. The size of the breast too changes.
“If there is white milky discharge from the breast(s) then it is not a problem but if there is discharge of fluid mixed with blood and wound then immediately consult the doctor,” cautioned Dr Shrestha.
The symptoms of breast cancer in men are no different from women.
Among the various causes — early menstruation, late menopause, someone whose never been pregnant or first pregnancy after the age of 30, obesity are some of the causes of breast cancer. Women who do not breastfeed too are prone to the disease. Women using oral contraceptive pills and smokers are also under high risk of acquiring breast cancer. Apart from them breast cancer could be genetic as well. If one of the members in the family is suffering from breast cancer then the daughters and granddaughters are prone to the disease. Not only from the mother’s lineage but women from father’s lineage too are prone to the disease. Excessive exposure to radiation is one of the major causes of breast cancer. Along with this, increasing life expectancy, sedentary lifestyle, fatty diets, hormonal causes, alcohol consumption are some of the growing causes for breast cancer.
After the age of 40 there is high risk of getting breast cancer and the risk rises to its peak around 50. Thus, “those above the age of 40 are advised to have a mammogram test once a year. Those who are below the age of 40 are suggested to have a mammogram test once in three years”.
Self-screening of the breasts can help women prevent breast cancer. Women can check their breasts moving their fingers in a circular pattern covering the entire breast and armpit during shower or while standing in front of the mirror. Swelling, change in nipples, lumps in and around breast or on the armpits must not be ignored. Those with family history of breast cancer must pay more attention to the changes in their breast(s).
Condition in Nepal
Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers in Nepal, but there is no confirmed data. The treatment facilities are available in the country. “If the cancer is in its early stage then the treatment is effective, it is comparatively difficult is the later stage though. A small surgery can help prevent breast cancer in the first and second stage. Patient loses chance
for operation, so chemotherapy is given to prolong life when they come on the third and fourth stage.”
In our country, women feel shy to show their private parts to the doctors. People reach hospitals during the second and third stage of their breast cancer. But “they must be conscious about the lumps in their breast to prevent cancer and its effects”.