Beyond the pink ribbons, the cold evenings, and the beginning of autumn that mark October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month offers a reason to reflect.
Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers in women. But there are still some things you may not know about it. Hence we bring you with another piece of article focusing on some facts and incidence of breast cancer.
Prevalence of breast cancer in India
The presented information is from breast cancer India which is supported by The Pink Initiative, a registered NGO.
Increasing incidence of breast cancer in younger age groups
At present, 4% of breast cancer patients are in 20 to 30 years age group, 16% are in 30 to 40, 28% are in the age group of 40 to 50 years. So, almost 48% of patients are below 50 years. An increasing number of patients are in the 25 to 40 years of age, and this is an alarming trend. Of course, one particular reason for the higher numbers of younger patients is that we have a huge population in the younger age group and much lesser in the older age group.
Rising incidence of breast cancer in India
Breast cancer accounts for 25% to 32% of all female cancers in all cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Bhopal, Kolkata, Chennai, Ahemdabad, etc. This reveals that nearly one third of all female cancer cases are breast cancers.
Late presentation and decreased survival
The overall 5-year survival for breast cancer has increased from 75% in the 1970s to almost 89% presently. This means that, out of every 100 women with breast cancer in the US, 89 women are likely to survive for at least 5 years. There are hardly any statistics like this for India. An estimate from the PBCR and HBCCR reports shows that 5-year survival rate is less than 60% in India.
Lack of awareness and screening
Majority of the people do not pay any heed to breast cancer unless and until a close relative suffers from it. The priority for healthcare is low and even in major cities; screening is a strange word for most people. Eventually, most people present only when symptoms occur, and on an average, most ‘symptomatic‘ cancers are usually at later stages like stage 2B, 3 and 4. Unlike their western counterparts, the breast cancer patients do not tend to survive for a longer time.
Some facts around breast cancer
- Eight out of ten women who get breast cancer do not have a family history of the disease.
- About 5 to 10 percent of breast cancers can be traced to specific, inherited gene mutations, such as the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations.
- Women with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation are more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer at a younger age, as well as developing cancer in both breasts.
- Women with dense breasts (more glandular and fibrous tissue and less fatty tissue) on mammograms have a risk of breast cancer that is about 1.5 to 2 times that of women with average breast density.
- Women who have had more menstrual cycles because they started menstruating early (especially before age 12) or went through menopause later (after age 55) have a slightly higher risk of breast cancer — likely because of longer lifetime exposure to the hormones estrogen and progesterone.
- The movement away from one-size-fits-all screening doesn’t mean you should skip your mammogram. Talk with your physician to evaluate your risk of breast cancer.
All the points mentioned above are pointing towards one necessary action and that is breast cancer awareness. This will help to detect it at an early stage and increase chances of survival. Be strong in the fight against breast cancer.
Never give up!