India needs more awareness to prevent mortality through breast cancer
The grades and stages of breast cancer in Indian patients are higher as compared to other countries. Even among the literate population who resort to curative rates and opt for alternative treatment options. Many misconceptions and lack of awareness regarding chemotherapy or mastectomy surgeries keep them away from getting treatment on time and they opt for alternative medicines.
“In India, 1 in 25 people are diagnosed with breast cancer annually which as compared to developed countries like US/ UK is less where 1 in 8 patients are diagnosed annually. However due to the fact that awareness among the developed countries being quite prominent, such high number of cases are diagnosed and treated in early stages and hence the survival rates are better. When considered the Indian scenario, the survival rates are quite low due to high population ratio and low awareness. One out of two diagnosed die within next five years which attributes to 50% mortality rates. Many patients in the urban are diagnosed at stage two when the T2 lesions are palpable lumps, but in cases of rural areas, these lesions are diagnosed only after they transform to metastatic tumors”.
Breast cancer is one of the leading causes of mortality among patients suffering from cancer worldwide. According to the recent data given by Globacan 2017, breast cancer among Indian women is the highest worldwide. There is an increase in the trend of new cancer patients, and the age group of new patients coming annually have gradually dropped from <55 years to under 40 years of age. As per the data recorded in ICMR 2017, over 1.5 lakh new breast cancer patients have been recorded in India last year.
Initially such treatments are luring for the patients but as the stages grow and are beyond their control, patients opt for allopathic treatment. Such conditions prevent them from getting timely treatment.
Globally, 7% of the population under the age of 40 years is suffering from breast cancer, whereas in India, the rate is double i.e. 15%. And out of which 1% of the patients are male, which put together has the highest count of breast cancer patients from India globally. Apart from being hereditary, many other risk factors like sedentary lifestyle, bingeing on alcohol, smoking, increasing obesity among youngsters, stress and poor dietary intake have been attributed to increase in the incidences of breast cancer among the young Indian women. According to a study conducted by NCBI 2016, vegetarian women are 40% less vulnerable to breast cancer.
Over the last decade, even though there is a rise in incidence of breast cancer, but with awareness, access and changing paradigms in cancer care, the mortality rate has come down gradually.
“Awareness should be created among masses to get most breast cancers detectable at early stages, as most women with breast cancer arrive after metastasis (when the tumor has spread to other body parts). In metastatic or advanced stages of cancer, it isn’t completely curable and the treatment aims to achieve remission (where the tumor shrinks or disappears).” Said Dr. P N Uppal, Senior Consultant, Medical Oncology, Saroj Super Specilaity Hospital.