In 2018, a total of 5.87 lakh women in India were diagnosed with Cancer. Out of this 28% of women were breast cancer patients, 17% were cervical cancer patients and 6% were diagnosed with ovarian cancer. This consolidated number only suggests that breast and Gynaecological tumours account to 50% of the cancers detected in India in the last one year alone.
Luckily both, breast and ovarian cancers are easily preventable. If caught on early they have a cure rate that is well over 90%. Though these numbers seem encouraging but the survival rate related to these cancers is low as compared to other parts of the world. In this feature, we will touch base on breast and ovarian cancer and shed some light on its diagnostic process.
Breast cancer screening
- Self-Examination should be done on regular intervals once a woman turns 20. It involves looking and feeling both breasts for lumps and disfigurations once a month. Any changes if noticed should be reported to her a medical specialist at the earliest.
- Clinical Breast Examination is a physical breast examination done by a qualified medical professional. It should start in the early 20’s and is to be repeated once a year.
- Sonomammography is prescribed when the doctors notice a lump in the breast in patients below 40 years. A Sonomammography is a breast ultrasound and is a non-invasive procedure that enables to doctor to examine the breast tissue and the blood vessels around it.
- Mammograms are meant for women who are above the age of 40. It is simply an X-ray of the Breasts. A Mammogram can pick up cancerous breast lumps which are so small that they otherwise cannot be felt on physical examination. Every woman should get a baseline Mammogram done between the ages of 45 to 50 and it is to be repeated the test once a year.
Screening cervical cancer-
The Pap test is a method of cervical screening used to detect potentially precancerous and cancerous processes in the cervix. A PAP smear is performed by a gynaecologist and is only a 10-minute procedure. A PAP smear needs to be done once a woman becomes sexually active and right up to the age of 65. It needs to be repeated once every 3 years.
Cervical vaccine and cancer prevention:
The cervical vaccine is an HPV vaccine directed against the 2 main strains of the human papillomavirus responsible for 80% of all cervical cancers. The vaccine is given in 3 doses 2 months apart and offers lifelong protection. It is most effective in young girls between 13 and 16 before they become sexually active. However, it can be useful if given right up to the age of 35.
Cancer is a lifestyle disease. A healthy lifestyle and controlled Diet is key to keeping cancer away. If one still gets diagnosed with cancer, then it should be caught in its early stages, leading to its cure.
Dying from cancer is not an option anymore. Spread awareness and engaging in conversation about the Big C is the only way we can win this battle against cancer.
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