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When it comes to breast cancer, it has been observed that the majority of the women in the west report in stages I and II of disease. In India, 50 per cent report in Stage III and 25 per cent in Stage IV. A survey carried out by the Indian Council of Medical Research in the metropolitan cities in India from 1982 to 2005 has shown that the incidence of breast cancer has almost doubled. Indian women having breast cancer are a decade younger in comparison to western women suggesting that breast cancer occurs at a younger premenopausal age in India. Studies suggest that the disease peaks at 40 50 years in Indian women.
According to Dr Mandeep S Malhotra, head, Department of Head, Neck & Breast Oncoplasty, Fortis Flt. Lt. Rajan Dhall Hospital, the main reasons for this observed hike in mortality is due to
Lack of inadequate breast cancer screening
Diagnosis of disease at an advanced stage
Unavailability of appropriate medical facilities
- The conventional Mammography based screening methodology is not effective
The causative factors leading to breast cancer are broadly classified into
Environment / lifestyle / habits
Faulty genes which can run in families
There two main female hormones, estrogen and progesterone, and their interplay have a major influence on cancer formation. Estrogen promotes cell growth. Progesterone causes cell maturation and stabilization. Anything which causes the hyperestrogenic stage without progesterone will lead to increased cell growth without stabilization or maturation making a woman prone to breast cancer.
Why an increasing number of Indian women are falling prey to breast cancer:
Many Indian women are experiencing early menarche which increases lifetime exposure of estrogen. Early onset puberty is not rare. The reasons attributed are not clear, but an increase in stress level in childhood, lack of active play, exposure to gadgets, mother s genes may be few of them.
Women with late menopause or those who have taken Hormone Replacement Therapy are more susceptible.
Being pregnant can reduce your breast cancer risk. Pregnancy gives 9 months of interrupted progesterone exposure which helps in stabilization and maturation of the breast. Timely pregnancy around the age of 30, at least, can reduce your breast cancer risk significantly. Many Indian women are delaying pregnancy or not opting for it.
Lactation also protects from breast cancer.
A lot of women take to smoking and alcohol, both of which increase the risk of breast cancer.
Increasing air pollution levels in India are causing a rise in breast cancer cases.
Lack of exercise, obesity and increasing levels of stress are responsible for more and more young Indian women becoming victims of breast cancer.
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