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Breast cancer: Only 7 per cent Bengaluru women tested!

Breast cancer: Only 7 per cent Bengaluru women tested!
 Breast self-examination (BSE) is a screening method used to detect early breast cancer. (Representational image)

Bengaluru: Only 7 percent of women in Bengaluru have ever got a breast examination done, is the shocking revelation by the National Family Health Survey 2015-16 (NFHS-4).

These surprising statistics reveal lack of awareness among women and also their busy lifestyles. “Not even 10 percent of women walk into the OPD for a breast examination. Women get themselves examined only when they suspect a lump in their breast or hear about someone close diagnosed with the breast cancer,” said Dr Garima Jain, senior consultant, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Apollo Cradle, Bangalore. The relatively low number is definitely a cause for worry, she said.

“In a city like Bengaluru, most of the patients are literate and awareness is not the real reason behind the low percentage. Many patients that I see are just too busy. Ideally, reproductive age group should have self-examination done. In our routine OPD, most of them don’t even have a clue about breast examination,” said Dr Anu Joseph, Consultant, Foetal Medicine, Gynaecologist and Obstetrician, Aspire Fertility Center. The issue becomes critical as of around 45,000 new cancer cases reported every year in the state, 8,000 are breast cancer cases. Breast examination is a simple tool to prevent or cure women of breast cancer.

“Health talks should happen at companies and it should also be included as part of the regular healthcare package. Including breast examination as part of general health is important. Health checkup is not all about lab tests as physical health is also important and women should be made aware of it,” said Dr Garima.

“Breast cancer can be cured and if diagnosed on time, a lump can be removed surgically. Every woman in the reproductive age group should go for a monthly breast examination,” said Dr Anu.

According to the Population Based Cancer Registry of 2015, of the 5,99,847 new Cancer cases diagnosed among women, breast cancer cases stood at 1,00,611. Self-examination is also a simple tool to check for unusual growth in the breasts. “We advise patients for a simple self breast examination. For women of all ages, the breast self-exam is a useful tool that is easy to do. It is used to look for unusual lumps, skin changes, or discharge,” Dr Garima said.

How it is done
Breast self-examination (BSE) is a screening method used to detect early breast cancer. The method involves the woman herself looking at and feeling each breast for possible lumps, distortions or swelling. A clinical breast exam is performed by a healthcare professional who is trained to recognise many different types of abnormalities and warning signs. This in-office exam will most likely be completed by a family physician or a gynaecologist during a woman’s annual exam. Every woman should do self-examination at least once a month at home.