Breast Cancer Prevalence In India
Breast cancer is a growing health concern in India. Mostly women are prone to this disease, as it is a rare malignancy in men with an incidence rate of 0.5–1%. In this blog, I will be shedding light on breast cancer prevalence in Indian women.
Every year, hundreds of women die due to unexplained and undiagnosed ailments. They fail to take care of their health due to lack of awareness, gender discrimination, no access to health facilities or domestic and social boundaries set for them by the society. According to Breastcancerindia.net, one woman dies due to breast cancer in India every 8 minutes. Don’t you think that’s shocking?
Although there have been a number of campaigns for breast cancer awareness by the Government of India and giants like Philips India and Dabur Vatika, I think there’s very little systematic effort to bring out behaviour change in the masses about breast cancer!
How Prevalent Is Breast Cancer In India?
Breast Cancer is the most common cancer affecting Indian women. It accounts for 30% of all total cancers. It is estimated that the incidence of breast cancer in rural areas is 1 in 60 women, whereas in urban women it is 1 in 22. Although these are regional measures of prevalence of breast cancer, females of any age can be afflicted with this deadly disease.
Let’s look at some possible reasons why its incidence is growing in India.
Why Breast Cancer Is So Prevalent In India?
Breast cancer is soon becoming a public health crisis in India. There are a number of reasons why:
Lack of Awareness:
Most women don’t know about breast cancer due to lack of access to basic health education. They only discover it when they feel the symptoms which usually appear in advanced stages!
This doesn’t help as often metastasis (spread of cancer to other organs) happens and surgery becomes impossible. It becomes deadly which can be treated only with chemotherapy or radiotherapy!
Most women are primary caregivers at homes and some even balance it with work. They hardly find time for themselves which leads to delay in diagnosis.
According to this study more than 50% of women in India give busy lifestyles as an excuse for avoiding breast health, 2% were uncomfortable to do the examination, while 18% didn’t think the breast examination was important.
Women in India often delay check-ups and examinations. That’s why more than 50% of the diagnosed breast cancer cases get detected at advanced stages, which lowers the survival rate of patients.
Stress, lack of exercise, oral contraceptive pills, and late work shifts increase the risk of breast cancer. Working women in cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Chennai, and Ahmedabad have reported for one-third of all female cancers in India due to extreme stress and sedentary lifestyles.
The amount of time and money required for detection and treatment for breast cancer is burdening. Moreover, the treatment is expensive considering processes like chemotherapy and radiotherapy are essential. If the government covered breast cancer under health insurance, it would be a great relief for every woman out there!
Less Treatment Resources:
Although the options for cancer treatment are growing, people still don’t have enough hospitals and doctors to go to. Isn’t that concerning?
What You Can Do To Prevent It
Prevention is always better than treatment. Having years of experience in radiation oncology and cancer treatment, I suggest four ways to conquer breast cancer- diet, exercise, self-examination and constant screening.
A nutritious diet that includes good fats, fruits and vegetables, soya can greatly reduce the risk of breast cancer. Eating cabbage on a regular basis also helps a lot! Regular exercise is also a must to avoid being overweight as even a 10% weight gain increases the risk!
Self-examination is key in women who have a strong family history of breast cancer. Getting the BRCA gene mutation test helps detect the cancer early and avoids a tedious treatment process in high risk family groups.
Women above 40 years of age must undergo mandatory annual breast cancer screening with mammograms.
With Mission Cancer Care, I aim to educate all women to take care of their health as communities and countries and ultimately the world are only as strong as the health of their women!