October is celebrated as the breast cancer awareness month all over the world. This helps to create awareness and bring attention and support to those diagnosed with breast cancer. The idea of awareness is also to encourage people to go for tests and screening. This would help in early detection and timely treatment.
According to the National Cancer Registry Program of India, about 1300 Indians die every day due to cancer. Breast cancer is one of the most common types of cancer for women. But, the good news is that it can be survived if it is detected and treated early.
For us to stay aware, it is vital that we know the symptoms to look out for. In this breast cancer awareness month, you can share your knowledge and pass it on to others as well.
A lump in the breast is perhaps one of the most common signs of breast cancer. But it can cause other significant changes around the breast area as well. Here are some other changes that may occur.
- The shape of the nipple may change.
- Breast pain does not go away even after the period gets over.
- A new lump occurs that does not go away even after the next period.
- There may be nipple discharge from the breast. It can be red, yellow, or brown.
- There may be redness or swelling without any reason.
- The person may also experience rash, skin irritation, or itchiness on the breast and surrounding areas.
- The lump may be around the collarbone or under the armpit.
It should be noted that not all lumps are cancerous. Some may be benign. You must schedule an appointment with your doctor and get it checked out.
Later Signs of Breast Cancer:
- One breast may seem more enlarged than the other.
- The nipple may retract and turn inwards.
- There may be a dimpling on the area of the breast.
- The existing lump may get bigger.
- The person may experience vaginal pain.
- There may be an “orange peel” texture to the skin.
- The lymph nodes in the armpit may be enlarged.
- The person may lose weight unintentionally.
- The veins are visible on the breast.
If you have one or more symptoms of cancer, it does not mean that you have it. There may be other explanations as well. But, it is important that you get it checked out at the earliest.
One of the ideas that the breast cancer awareness month wants to spread is to get yourself checked out if you have any symptoms. For those, who have never been to the doctor for a breast cancer diagnosis, this might help calm the nerves.
When you go to the doctor with symptoms of breast cancer, one of the first tests that they conduct is a physical examination. The doctor will examine the nipples for discharge or other problems. They also check the color of the skin and may feel your breasts and armpits to see if there is any lump.
Your family’s history is also of importance here. The doctor may ask if someone in the close kin has had cancer or not. Based on your answers and what the physical examination showed, more tests may be needed.
Breast Cancer Awareness Month
It is important to emphasize the importance of breast cancer awareness month in India as it shoulders some of the biggest burdens when it comes to cancer. In 2018, over 87,090 deaths occurred due to breast cancer and over 1,62,468 cases were registered.
Early detection is imperative in cancer patients especially breast cancer. If it is left undiagnosed until advanced stages, it gets more difficult to treat or contain. Around 60% of breast cancer patients are diagnosed when the cancer is in the later stages. The late diagnosis is what will cost 76,000 lives by the year 2025.
Breast cancer in men is often overlooked. Around 1% of breast cancer occurs in men. There is promotion of it in order to spread the message to all. As it will help more people to be aware of the causes and symptoms.
When we talk about cancer in women, most of the women who get breast cancer do not have any family history or risk factors.
Spread the Message to All
People must start normalizing this conversation. In a country like India where tradition and culture dominate other areas of life, women feel shy and often refuse to go to a doctor for such issues. But, if ignored, it can lead to serious issues, long bills and even death. In this breast cancer awareness month, let us spread the message that it is okay to talk about it and to seek help. Being mindful of the symptoms can help you save lives.