Preventive Education
Breast cancer

Cancer is a broad term for a class of diseases characterized by abnormal cells that grow and invade healthy cells in the body. Breast cancer is a type of cancer originating from breast tissue, most commonly from the inner lining of milk ducts or the lobules that supply the ducts with milk. Cancers originating from ducts are known as ductal carcinomas, while those originating from lobules are known as lobular carcinomas.



According to the World Health Organization, breast cancer is the most common cancer among women worldwide, claiming the lives of hundreds of thousands of women each year and affecting countries at all levels of modernization. The low survival rates in less developed countries can be explained mainly by the lack of early detection programmes, resulting in a high proportion of women presenting with late-stage disease (WHO).

India is facing a cancer epidemic. By 2020, 70% of the world's cancer cases will be in poor countries, with a fifth in India. In 2011 the Indian Council of Medical Research released an analysis of cancer cases among women in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, and Bangalore from 1982 to 2005, showing that until about 10 years ago, 10 per 100 000 women got breast cancer, compared with 23 per 100 000 now. By 2020, breast cancer is set to overtake cervical cancer as the most common type of cancer among all women in India.

For the years 2015, there will be an estimated 155,000 new cases of breast cancer and about 76000 women in India are expected to die of the disease. The gap only seems to be widening, which means, we need to work aggressively on early detection (National Cancer Registry Programme).

Risk Factors
  • Breast cancer risk factors overview
  • Age
  • Endogenous hormones
  • Reproductive factors
  • Oral contraceptives (OCs)
  • Hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
  • Family history and genetic factors
  • Overweight and obesity
  • Height
  • Breast density
  • Benign breast disease
  • In situ breast carcinoma
  • Previous cancer
  • Ionising radiation
  • Diet
  • Alcohol
  • Tobacco
  • Occupational exposures
  • Medical conditions and treatments
Measures to prevent
  • Limit alcohol. The more alcohol you drink, the greater your risk of developing breast cancer. If you choose to drink alcohol — including beer, wine or liquor — limit yourself to no more than one drink a day.
  • Don't smoke. Accumulating evidence suggests a link between smoking and breast cancer risk, particularly in premenopausal women. In addition, not smoking is one of the best things you can do for your overall health.
  • Control your weight. Being overweight or obese increases the risk of breast cancer. This is especially true if obesity occurs later in life, particularly after menopause.
  • Be physically active. Physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight, which, in turn, helps prevent breast cancer. For most healthy adults, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity weekly, plus strength training at least twice a week.
  • Breast-feed. Breast-feeding may play a role in breast cancer prevention. The longer you breast-feed, the greater the protective effect.
  • Limit dose and duration of hormone therapy. Combination hormone therapy for more than three to five years increases the risk of breast cancer. If you're taking hormone therapy for menopausal symptoms, ask your doctor about other options. You may be able to manage your symptoms with non hormonal therapies, such as physical activity. If you decide that the benefits of short-term hormone therapy outweigh the risks, use the lowest dose that works for you.
  • Avoid exposure to radiation and environmental pollution. Medical-imaging methods, such as computerized tomography, use high doses of radiation, which have been linked with breast cancer risk. Reduce your exposure by having such tests only when absolutely necessary. While more studies are needed, some research suggests a link between breast cancer and exposure to the chemicals found in some workplaces, gasoline fumes and vehicle exhaust.
Treatment options available

Different types of treatment are available for patients with breast cancer. Some treatments are standard, and some are being tested in clinical trials. A treatment clinical trial is a research study meant to help improve current treatments or obtain information on new treatments for patients with cancer. Patients may want to think about taking part in a clinical trial.

Six types of standard treatment are used:

  • Surgery
  • Sentinel lymph node biopsy followed by surgery
  • Radiation therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Hormone therapy
  • Targeted therapy

New types of treatment are being tested in clinical trials e.g. High-dose chemotherapy with stem cell transplant

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