To combat breast cancer, raising awareness is a must

Breast cancer is no longer a disease of the West. Almost every urban woman is at risk, particularly those with a lifestyle that does not allow them to maintain healthy habits or those who are ignorant about self-examination. So awareness programmes are being organised to draw attention to the menace.

Events like sponsored walks, car rallies, fashion shows and cultural shows seek to draw attention to the disease and the factors leading to it. Recently, The Forum For Breast Cancer Protection, an NGO, sponsored a car rally with only women behind the wheel, some of them breast cancer survivors, to spread awareness about the disease.

Nearly 65 cars participated in the rally from Delhi to Agra. It was flagged off by Kathak dancer Shovana Narayan from DLF Saket. The participants were very excited, though some of them were first-timers. One of them said, “All of us are very excited about the whole thing, only because we are doing it for a good cause and in a way contributing towards the programme.”

People in our country, especially in the rural areas and non-metro cities, still feel shy of disclosing their illness, but this can leave not only the patient but the entire family in despair. Breast cancer starts when the cells inside the breast begin to grow out of control. As a result lumps called tumours begin to form inside the breast and if left untreated these cells will continue to grow and be a big threat to life.

The best thing is to detect it at the earliest stage so that it can be cured and the breast does not have to be removed. To detect the disease, women nearing the age of 40 should get themselves checked by getting a mammogram test done once a year. On the occasion, Dr. Ramesh Sarin, Senior Surgeon, at the Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, said, “No lady is immune to it and no one except God knows what’s in store for us. Only awareness will help us detect the signals.”

To prevent breast cancer there is no sure way, but women can reduce the risk by avoiding alcohol and smoking, besides doing regular exercise. Breast-feeding for a longer period also helps in reducing the risk of getting the disease. Women, who are physically inactive throughout their lives may have an increased risk of breast cancer. Dr. P.K. Julka, Professor and Head of Department of Clinical Oncology at AIIMS, said, “Besides mammography, MRI can also be done. This technology is a bit better as it has got no radiation.” According to him, an MRI test at the AIIMS can be done for Rs.1000 and a mammography for Rs.300 and that too without any waiting period.

LOWER YOUR RISK

Get regular screening tests for breast cancer, such as an annual mammogram and a breast exam during your annual check-up.

Allow you and your doctor to ensure that your breasts are as healthy as they can be.