Since the last three years, there has been a 50% rise in middle-aged women (aged 35-50 years) reporting cases of breast cancer in India, said doctors at a private hospital in Delhi on Friday, October 22. The estimates are based on OPD ( Outpatient Department) records by doctors, the Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals said in a statement. "Based on our records from past three years, we have observed that 50% women reporting breast cancer and related manifestations have been between the age of 35 to 50 years," said Dr Ramesh Sarin, Senior Consultant, Surgical Oncologist, at the hospital, in the statement.
"With our hospital-based consultation data for breast cancer, it is found that though 53% of the reported cases are in the initial stages of cancer and 47% are in the advanced stages of cancer by a total of 20% in stage 4 and 27% in stage 3 cancer," he added. Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women, and accounts for almost 30% of the entire cancer burden reported among women. With limited awareness and hesitancy towards preventive diagnosis, one in every 20 women is diagnosed with this cancer.
Due to lack of awareness, most women in India get diagnosed with the breast cancer at its advanced stages and thus, have to undergo all the related treatment modalities that are both physically and mentally challenging. Further, the pandemic induced hesitancy to visit hospitals led to a lot of women delaying treatment or ignored early sign and symptoms, hence adding to the evident spike in cases.
"The survival or cure rate falls drastically from early stage to advanced stages. In our own series, 90% of women in stage 1 and 2 survive for more than 10 years while only 30% survive in stage 3 and 5 per cent in stage 4," Sarin said. "We need to increase the detection up to 70-80% in early stages of cancer by making women aware of the early signs and symptoms of breast cancer for achieving a better cure rate with proper management of the disease."
The reasons for early age could be genetic. Certain lifestyle choices also contribute towards the risk of developing breast cancer in young women such as limited or lower amount of physical activity and increasing obesity and smoking. Excessive consumption of alcohol and oral contraceptives also have a debatable association with increased risk of breast cancer in younger women. Women are highly advised to be watchful towards their sedentary lifestyle patterns and any newly observant signs of breast cancer like a lump, discharge or discolouration of breasts, the doctor said.
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