Incidence of breast cancer in Bengaluru, which was the third highest in the country after Hyderabad and Chennai till last year, jumped to the second highest at 40.5 per lakh (age-adjusted rate — AAR) this year. The highest incidence is in Chennai at 42.2 per lakh.
This is a huge increase in Bengaluru when compared with the AAR of 15 per lakh in 1982, according to Karnataka’s Population-based Cancer Registry (PBCR). October is observed as breast cancer awareness month.
Doctors said breast cancer is the first and most common cancer in women in India and accounts for 25% to 32% of all cancers in women in Indian cities (as per Urban Population-based cancer registries) and second most common cancer in rural areas.
According to data from Karnataka’s PBCR, shared by the State-run Kidwai Memorial Institute of Oncology (the nodal centre that maintains the State registry), it is estimated that annually over 9,800 new cases of breast cancers are diagnosed in Karnataka apart from a prevalence (existing cases) of nearly 30,000 cases.
Based on the incidence rate in Bengaluru, it is estimated that around 1,688 new cases of breast cancer are diagnosed every year apart from existing 4,558 cases, data showed.
Kidwai Director C. Ramachandra told The Hindu on Wednesday that every year an increase of over 4.2% in AAR is observed in Bengaluru. “Breast cancer is the most common cancer among females, accounting for 28% of all female cancers every year, and the incidence is likely to increase further,” he said.
At Kidwai, around 800 new cases of breast cancer are registered every year, accounting for 17% of all female cancers seen in this regional cancer care centre.
More young women reporting
“Over the years it has been observed that more young women are reporting breast cancer. The average age of patients with breast cancer has shifted from 40-70 years to 30-50 years. Over the last few years, we are also seeing incidence among women in 20-30 years and this cancer in the young age is more aggressive,” he said.
Dr. Ramachandra pointed out that more than 50% of patients with breast cancer present when the disease has progressed to stage 3 or stage 4. “Late presentation is concerning as it decreases the survival rates. If detected in the initial phase, the chance of cure can reach 90%,” he said.
“Unlike in the western countries, the survival rates for breast cancers are less in India with a five-year overall survival of around 65% to 70% when compared with the U.S. (89%) and the U.K. (82%),” he pointed out.
Dr. Ramachandra said although the exact risk factors for breast cancer are still not known, sedentary lifestyles, excessive consumption of fast food and aerated drinks, an increase in smoking and alcohol consumption among women, menstrual factors (early age at menarche and late age at menopause) are responsible.
Besides, obesity, weight gain during adulthood, lack of physical exercise and reproductive factors (nulliparity, late childbearing), and exogenous hormone factors (use of oral contraceptives and hormone replacement therapy) are also the common risk factors, he said. Women should not ignore any lump or pain in the breast, thickening or swelling of a part of the breast, irritation or dimpling of breast skin, redness and discharge, the doctor added.