Breast Cancer Awareness – I – Rising Kashmir

Health

 On a global scale, cancer has emerged as a significant concern and hazard to people all over the world, and it is now the leading cause of death in almost every country. Cellulitis is a condition that happens in the body as a result of aberrant cell proliferation. The tissues that comprise an organ are made up of cells that function together as a unit. Under normal conditions, new cells replace the diseased cells via the process of cell proliferation, which is universal to all cells.

Tissues or lumps of cells are formed when these cells become abnormal and replicate themselves uncontrollably, leading to the creation of tumors or cancers, which are masses or lumps of cells that have outgrown their original environment. Lung cancer, breast cancer, liver cancer, colorectal cancer, stomach cancer, and are the most frequent kinds of cancer. Breast cancer is the most prevalent type of cancer and the biggest cause of mortality among women impacting 2.1 million women each year. The U.S, India and China account for almost one third of the global breast cancer cases. Approximately, 0.5-1% of breast cancers occur in men. 

As reported by the American Cancer Society, it is estimated that 327,610 cases are diagnosed in 2020, which comprises 276,480 invasive breast cancers for women, 2620 for men, and 48,530 cases of ductal carcinoma in situ identified in women. Approximately 42,690 people were expected to die in 2020, including 42,690 women and 520 men. In contrast, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that breast cancer was the most diagnosed disease among women internationally.

It is estimated that 627,000 women die every year due to breast cancer, and most of this disease occurs in low- and middle-income countries. More than 2.1 million new cases were diagnosed in 2018, and one out of eight women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in their lifetime. 

In 2020, approximately 1.8 million cancer cases were diagnosed, with breast cancer accounting for 30% of those cases. As of the end of 2020, there were 7.8 million women who were diagnosed with breast cancer in the past 5 years, making it the world’s most prevalent cancer. 

As of February 2022, Kashmir reports 20% increase in cancer cases in a year with breast cancer accounting for most patients. As per the latest figures revealed by the Regional Cancer Center at the Sheri Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) Soura, a total of 4,737 cancer cases were reported in the year 2021, up from 3,840 cases of cancer in 2020. As per Union Health Ministry’s figures, Jammu Kashmir has reported an estimated 39041 cancer cases, of which 12675 were recorded in 2019, 13012 in 2020 and 13354 in 2021.

Breast cancer can arise in the epithelium (the lining cells of the ducts) which constitutes 85% or in the glandular tissue of the breast which constitutes 15%.Initially, the cancerous cells are confined to the lobule or duct (also called as stage 0 or in situ) where it generally has no symptoms. It also has a minimal potential for spreading (which is known as metastasis).

Over the time, these stage 0 cancers may progress and invade the tissue surrounding the breast which is called as Invasive Breast Cancer. Finally, these cells may spread to the nearby lymph nodes (called as Regional Metastasis) or to the other body organs (called as Distant Metastasis).Besides this, it is also grouped into five stages (0-IV).  The chances of survival decrease as the cancer progresses to stage IV. The developed tumors can be also be defined as benign or malignant.

Benign tumors are not cancerous. They can usually be removed and generally don’t grow back once they’re gone. The cells in benign tumors don’t spread and it is rare for a benign tumor to be life threatening.  Malignant tumors, on the other hand are cancerous. The cells are abnormal and divide randomly. The cells behave aggressively and attack the tissue around them. They also can move away from malignant tumor and enter the blood stream to form new tumors in other parts of the body. 

The risk associated with breast cancer continues to rise in many countries, despite innovations in treatment and various campaigns. The prime reason behind the death rise due to breast cancer cases in women is low awareness and late detection. This problem could be addressed effectively if we focus on some important factors like prevention, timely diagnosis and effective treatment. Breast cancer treatment can be highly effective, especially when the disease is identified early. Having regular checkups and screening test is one of the important procedures to find the abnormality in breasts before any symptoms appear. Finding breast cancer early gives a better chance of successful treatment.

Treatment of breast cancer often consists of a combination of surgical removal, radiation therapy and medication (hormonal therapy, chemotherapy and/or targeted biological therapy) to treat the microscopic cancer that has spread from the breast tumor through the blood. Such treatment, which can prevent cancer growth and spread, thereby saves lives. Breast cancer mortality has changed little from the 1930s through to the 1970s.  

Improvements in survival began in the 1980s in countries with early detection programmes combined with different modes of treatment to eradicate invasive disease. Various imaging techniques have been developed and are widely used to detect the breast cancer at its early stage. Mammography, breast ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron emission tomography (PET), and computed tomography (CT) are some imaging techniques. Although X-ray mammography is used as a primary screening tool, Ultrasound is usually performed as a follow-up to gather more diagnostic information. MRI is only used for special cases (e.g., high-risk genetic mutation, multifocal disease), and its value for screening is currently under debate due to its high costs and the need for contrast agents. Ultrasound (US) imaging and mammography are the effective modality for screening early breast cancer in women under the age of 40 years.

       (TO BE CONTINUED…)

(The Author is PhD scholar and currently working on early detection of Breast Cancer using Artificial Intelligence, Jamia Millia Islamia New Delhi)

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