Signs & Symptoms
The body is made up of billions of tiny cells, which usually grow and multiply in an orderly way. New cells are only produced when and where they’re needed. When this orderly process goes wrong and cells begin to grow and multiply uncontrollably, it can form cancer, e.g. breast cancer.
Breast cancer is the most common invasive cancer in women and the second leading cause of cancer deaths in women. A recent study shows that 1 in 28 women in India are likely to develop this disease during their lifetime. In fact, alarmingly, in 2017 India had the highest death rates globally.
Over 2000 new women are diagnosed with cancer every day, and unfortunately 1200 are detected at the later stages. Such late detection of cancer reduces chances of survival by 3 to 17 times and increases cost of treatment by 1.5 to 2 times, as compared to early detected cancers.
As in most types of cancer, the stage of breast cancer at the time of diagnosis is a critically important determinant of survival. Patients whose cancer is diagnosed early have fewer complications and substantially higher chances of survival than those whose cancer is diagnosed late.
According to studies, a person who receives treatment for stage 0 or stage 1 breast cancer has a 99% chance of surviving for at least 5 years after being diagnosed, when compared to women who do not have cancer. If breast cancer reaches stage 4, the chance of surviving another 5 years reduces to around 27%.
Moreover, we should not discount the fact that a happy mindset & healthy lifestyle changes can play a major role in the recovery of patients. Even patients with later stages of cancer are known to respond well to the prescribed treatment and recover better if they just choose to say Yes To Life!
It is important to note that these statistics are just averages, and each person’s chance of recovery depends on many factors, including the size of the tumour, the number of lymph nodes that contain cancer, and other features of the tumour that affect how quickly a tumour will grow and how well the treatment works. This means that it can be difficult to estimate each person’s chance of survival.
Early detection is the first and the most important step in combating against breast cancer. Regular checks and screening can help detect breast cancer early.
It is to be noted that symptoms of breast tumours vary with person-to-person, and also with types of cancer. For example, Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (IDC), which forms in the milk ducts, may cause a distinct breast lump that you can feel. Invasive Lobular Carcinoma (ILC), which forms in milk-producing glands, may cause a thickening in the breast.
Some common, early warning signs of breast cancer include:
- Persistent lump in the breast or armpit area
- Pain in the armpits or breast
- Pitting or redness of the skin of the breast
- A rash around or on one of the nipples
- Discolouration on skin of the breast
- Discharge from nipple, possibly containing blood
- A sunken or inverted nipple
- A change in the size or shape of the breast
- Peeling, flaking or scaling of the skin on the breast or nipple
These symptoms may not necessarily mean cancer. However, you should visit a doctor for an examination if you notice any of these symptoms or anything else related to breast health.