MYTHS & REALITIES OF BREAST CANCER
- A) Breast cancer affects (in a study conducted in the US) one in every 11 women between the ages of 40 to 50 years.
Yes, it is real.
It means it is common cancer in women.
- B) Urban women are more affected than rural women.
Two decades ago that was the notion. However, nowadays because of change in lifestyle, rural & urban women are almost equally afflicted with this cancer. Yes, probably urban women are more aware and might be reaching out to the doctor earlier.
- C) Breast cancer is incurable.
While stage 1 (early) cancer is 78% curable, we mostly get patients to treat at stage 3 of the disease. Hence the cure rates are low.
- D) Younger the patient is worse the prognosis.
Breast cancer in pre & peri-menopausal women does not report having a good prognosis.
Every year one lakh cases of breast cancer are diagnosed in India as per the regional cancer centers statistics. The number may vary.
- E) The cancer is "familial".
It is real as well as a myth.
Yes, breast cancer can run in families and have said that it is the first degree relatives and kin that are affected. True germline mutations are not common.
- F) The best ways to diagnose breast cancer is through PET scan and MRI
In high-risk group of women apart from self-examination, Mammography & Ultrasonography of the breasts is accepted modalities of early diagnosis.
Mammography is advisable after age 36 in a normal population.
PET scan is never a diagnostic modality for breast cancer.
MRI Breast is usually done to evaluate recurrent cancer in the breast.
Dr. Ramesh Parimi,
MS, FRCS, FAMS,