Being aware of the signs and symptoms, self-breast examination and screening with mammogram were key for early detection of breast cancer, experts pointed out.
A webinar on “Self-awareness and early detection of breast cancer” was organised as a part of The Hindu Wellness Series presented by Fujifilm on Saturday.
Highlighting the signs and symptoms of breast cancer, Shilpa Lad, consultant, Breast Imaging and Interventions, NM Medical Center, Mumbai, said pain was not a typical sign of breast cancer. “Breast pain is typically associated with hormonal fluctuations during the menstrual cycle. Some of the signs of breast cancer are nipple retraction, dimpling, hardening, red discolouration, asymmetry in size, growing vein, nipple fluid and painless palpable lump.”
She said being aware and doing a self-breast examination once a month were important.
“The best time of the month to do a self-breast examination is between day 7-14 of the menstrual cycle, that is the week after the period,” she said.
On imaging techniques, Bhawna Dev, senior consultant, Sri Ramachandra Institute of Higher Education and Research, said screening mammogram was X-ray of the breast taken to check for breast cancer in the absence of signs and symptoms. If picked up at the right time, breast cancer can be treated and will have better survival rates, she said.
“The five-year survival rate in India was 60% because we do not pick up cancers early,” she said, adding, “Women aged in the 40s and older should have mammograms every year. Women with a higher than average risk of breast cancer may need mammograms before the age of 40.”
Cancer treatment was multimodal — surgery, chemotherapy that includes targeted therapy, radiation and hormonal therapy, said Mandar Nadkarni, breast oncosurgeon, Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, Mumbai. “Multi modalities of treatment are mandatory but the requirement of treatment is lesser if we catch cancers early.” Dr Nadkarni also spoke on breast conservation surgery.
Chandershekhar Sibal, senior vice-president, Head of Medical Division, Fujifilm India Pvt Ltd, spoke on the various awareness initiatives taken up by Fujifilm. Noting that they had launched a screening centre at Bengaluru where screening for 10 common cancers were done, he said they were planning to launch 100 such health-screening centres across the country.