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Breast cancer is the standard form of cancer found among women in India. It has now outdone lung cancer as the leading cause of cancer incidence, accounting for approximately 14 per cent. Data suggest that an Indian woman is diagnosed with breast cancer every four minutes, and every 13 minutes, a woman succumbs to death. And this is the scenario across urban and rural India. If you analyze the survival rate, the chances get slimmer in higher stages of cancer growth. For example, the overall survival rate for breast cancer is 90 per cent over five years. This means that out of 100 women, 90 survive five years after being diagnosed with breast cancer. Likewise, the 10-year survival rate is 84 per cent, and the 15-year survival rate is 80 per cent. But, to your surprise, the post-cancer survival rate for patients with breast cancer was 60 per cent for Indian women, compared to 80 per cent in the US.
As shocking as these numbers are, they raise an essential question: why are the survival rates so low?
The low survival rate among Indian women with breast cancer is due to the absence of early screening and lack of awareness. Breast cancer, though grave, is curable if diagnosed in time. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the most effective intervention for combating breast cancer is early diagnosis and rapid treatment. In this case, Dr Juergen Scheele, MD, PhD - Chief Medical Officer, Innoplexus shares why women hesitate to seek support for detection or treatment.
The Difference Maker
The Optimistic Outcome of Personalized Care in Breast Cancer
With the rising number of women in India and globally suffering from breast cancer, researchers and healthcare experts are finding newer and better ways to diagnose and treat this condition. Globally, precision medicine an emerging practice that uses a person's genetic profile to make decisions regarding the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of the condition has proven to be the best option to ascertain the proper treatment for each case. Personalizing treatment this way may reduce harmful side effects and restrict the damage to healthy cells. This means that even if two people have the same form of breast cancer, they are most likely to receive different treatments.
Meanwhile, cancer patients still get treated with radiation therapy, surgery, or chemotherapy. However, precision medicine has enabled doctors to add newer, targeted treatments for the best possible results. Treatment options like immunotherapy & targeted therapy are considered precision medicine. The former, which involves drugs, are released in the body to target specific proteins and genes that influence the growth and survival of cancer cells. The latter has been shown to stop the growth and spread of cancer cells by branching off growth signals, averting cells from living longer than usual or destroying cancer cells.
With the backing of the latest research, these evident results have helped develop effective precision medicines that cause lesser side effects. However, the downside is that precision treatment is not accessible for all cancer types and subtypes. In fact, in many cases, precision treatments are available in clinical trials. The good part is that scientists continually understand how precision treatments work, why they stop working in some cases, and more about cancer genetics.
Inspiring Stories of Celebrities Who Beat Breast Cancer: From Chhavi Mittal to Mahima Chaudhary
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Television actress Chhavi Mittal has been making news for the last few months after her breast cancer battle. The young actress, also an ardent social media user, recently underwent surgery for it and is currently undergoing radiotherapy, the updates of which are often shared by her on Instagram and YouTube. Having documented her entire journey during this phase, Mittal, in a long post, talked about the side effects of radiotherapy that she experienced and the fact that the surgery has led to a lot of weight gain, coupled with swollen breasts and accumulation of cellulite.
Not long after that, the news of Bollywood actress, Mahima Chaudhary, battling breast cancer came to light when renowned actor Anupam Kher shared a video on Instagram talking about her cancer diagnosis. Many celebrities, including Mittal, came out supporting Chaudhary in no time.
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The statistics, these stories, and the emerging solutions indicate that the journey from being diagnosed to concluding treatment will have its ups and downs. But they also attest that awareness of one's physiology and willingness to lead a healthy, balanced lifestyle can contribute positively and avert the risk of developing breast cancer.