About three years ago, Namita Garg, (name changed) read an article on Breast self-examination. She examined her breasts and felt observable changes. When examined, it was found that she was at second stage of cancer. Detected at early stage, she was operated on time and is leading a healthy life now.
A few moments of self-examination before a mirror to figure out any obvious observable changes in the breasts saved Namita’s life and can save many other lives too.
With the breast cancer awareness month drawing to a close, this is one mantra which Namita and doctors are underlining more than ever before.
“Never ignore an early symptom of breast cancer, learn to recognise the symptoms and get regular health check up done,” Namita said.
“The purpose of awareness is that patient should come on time. As part of breast awareness code, one should know what is normal for you. What does your breast look like normally? If you find any changes then visit a doctor. If you are above 40 years then get screening done immediately,” Dr Gurpreet Singh, professor, department of Surgery, PGI said.
In foreign counties, where screening is a national policy, breast cancer cases have declined by 25-30 per cent.
“Second part of the code is that what changes we look for? We should look if there is any lump in the breast, nipple discharge, any change in the shape of the breast, any nipple cracking, enlargement of the breast,” he added.
“However, every symptom does not mean that you have cancer. It means that you have a change in your breast, run to the doctor. Please do not sit at home with symptoms. If you will sit at home with symptoms and wait until they start troubling you, it might be too late,” Dr Gurpreet added.
The doctor added, “In the initial stages, breast cancer does not cause any problem, it is asymptomatic. Fortunately, the life history of breast cancer is such that by the time it starts, to the time it becomes known to the patient. That is a long interval and during this interval we can pick it up and treat it.”
Early breast cancer is curable in vast number of patients. As you let the disease advanced the chances of it cure decreases and treatment becomes more complicated.
Dr Singh said that though early diagnoses save lives, but unfortunately, at PGIMER, most of the patients come in late stages.
“Self check is