Bengaluru: Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in Karnataka with an incidence of about 28%, reveals the National Cancer Registry Programme. Alarmingly, around 54% of women suffering from breast cancer in Bengaluru are below 50 years of age and a significant number even below 30, going by the report.
But despite the availability of mammograms, ultrasound scans and vacuum assisted breast biopsy (VABB) for diagnosis and treatment of the disease, government data reveals that only 7% of women in Bengaluru in the age group 15 to 49 have ever undergone a breast examination.
“It is surprising that breast check-ups in urban centres is so low. This shows that even the educated shy away from going for it”, says Dr. Sudhakar of HCG, Bengaluru.
The lack of preventive care is particularly alarming as India has a low breast cancer survival rate. While in developed countries only 25 per cent of patients die due to breast cancer, in India only about 20 to 30% stage-I and II breast cancers are diagnosed in time with most patients visiting doctors in stages III or IV when the disease has already spread and is difficult to cure.
Concerned by the trend, Dr. Sudhakar advises self examination. “The first major indication of breast cancer is the formation of lumps. So it is important that women do self-examination of their breasts once every month, moving their fingers around the entire breast area and checking for any lump, skin thickening or hardened knot. They can do visual inspection of the breasts too, looking out for changes in the contour, skin texture or nipples along with any kind of swelling, dimpling of the skin and puckering. A little pressure should also be applied to the breast to check for any discharge,” he explains.