Pakistan has the highest incidence of breast cancer in all of Asia. Every year around 90,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer in the country. Out of these, a whopping 40,000 females die. Research suggests that most cases of invasive or metastatic cancer occur in women that lie in the 50-64 year age range. However, the rather surprising news is that the survival rate of breast cancer is more than 90% if detected early.
As can be seen from statistics, breast cancer is a highly prevalent but treatable disorder if detected in time. Why then is the survival rate of Pakistani women suffering from breast cancer so low? The answer is simple, there is a lack of awareness of one of the most crucial topics regarding women’s health. This is why it is now more necessary than ever to spread vital information about female health and breast cancer.
Signs and symptoms of breast cancer
Breast cancers may not always be invasive. However, this can only be determined by your physician. Therefore, if you are experiencing any of these symptoms, refer to your primary healthcare provider immediately. Common symptoms of breast cancer include:-
- The first and most common sign of breast cancer is the development of a lump or thickened-tissue area in the breast
- A change in the size or shape of either or both breasts
- Fluid or discharge from one or both of the nipples
- The presence of a lump or swelling in the armpit
- Dimpling of the skin of the breast
- Rash around the nipple area
- Change in appearance of the nipple such as inversion
It is important to note that breast pain is usually not a symptom of breast cancer. However, it is still important to get it evaluated by your physician.
Early detection is the key to successful treatment
Most women brush key symptoms of breast cancer under the rug instead of getting themselves evaluated. This turns the curable disease into a fatal one. For breast cancer treatments to be successful, cancer must be detected in time. Following are some of the numerous methods of early detection for breast cancer :
- Self-examination: one of the best tools that all females can use for evaluating any breast changes is self-examination. If you do not know how to conduct a thorough self-examination, then you can go for a Clinical Breast Examination as well. Women are advised to consult a physician immediately if they notice any changes, especially those mentioned in this article.
- Mammograms and Ultrasounds: Mammograms and Ultrasounds are much more comprehensive than breast exams in determining the presence of breast cancer
- X-ray, CT and MRI scans: these are mostly done to estimate the size and severity of the breast cancer
- Biopsy: A sample of breast cells or cells from the lymph nodes is taken to check for the presence of cancer
5 basic treatment options are often used in various combinations depending on the type of cancer being treated. These include:
- Hormone Therapy
- Targeted therapies
Your doctor will decide which treatment is best for you and guide you through the entire process accordingly.
It is estimated that breast cancer mortality can be reduced by 1/3rd through routine screening of females above 50 years of age. It is essential to highlight the importance of breast cancer screening and early detection in our society considering how prevalent the disease is.
Remember, cancer is not a death sentence and can be cured! In fact, if detected in time, the majority of breast cancer cases are treated successfully and individuals can go on to live a normal healthy life. Regular screenings and Clinical Breast Exams must be made a norm in our society if we are to battle this disease successfully. As a large proponent of women’s health, Shifaam stands united with breast cancer sufferers and survivors all across Pakistan.
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