Breast cancer on the rise in India due to changing lifestyles

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New Delhi, Nov.17 (ANI): Breast cancer is on the rise in India due to changing lifestyles.

Forty-year-old Dayanand Yadav is the only male patient at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences' (AIIMS) breast cancer clinic.

Yadav had never imagined he could suffer from what is usually seen to be a woman's disease.

And, coming to terms with it, is proving to be more difficult, than the actual operation.

"I felt a swelling, which was increasing. I ignored it earlier, but four to five months later, I began convulsing in pain. When I showed it to the doctor, he told me that it was breast cancer and I must get it operated immediately," says Yadav

Breast cancer affects one man out of every one hundred cases in women. Lack of awareness means detection is usually late for men.

And, the cancer can spread quickly because of their small breast size. Many men never seek treatment.

According to Dr. M.K. Mishra, a surgeon at AIIMS, most of the patients suffering from breast cancer, come to hospital when the disease is at an advanced stage.

"Seventy percent of our patients come in an advanced stage of the disease where we have to use a lot of resources, the patient suffers much more because of the treatment, it is aggressive and side effects are there. And still we don't get the outcome we wish," Dr. Mishra said.

If detected early, the survival rate for people with breast cancer is high. But it is the number two cause of death among Indian women, after cervical cancer.

Nearly 100,000 women are diagnosed with cancer every year.

The real figure could be much higher, as many women are not comfortable approaching doctors for diagnosis.

Farha Sultana, a breast cancer patient, said: "A doctor told me that it was a tumour and I should get an operation but I was scared. Then I sought treatment from a homeopath who said he could dissolve the tumour with his medicine. I tried his medicine for two to three months before coming here as it was not helping."

The government has launched several programmes to spread awareness of breast cancer. It runs camps and mobile health vans to reach women in rural areas. Treatment is free at most hospitals.

And the emphasis is put on learning about breast health at an early age.

R. Anuradha, a breast cancer survivor, said: "It is very easy to examine your breasts. You need not more than 10 minutes every month to do this. You should be aware of the changes that are happening in your breast and inform the doctor immediately in case you notice any abnormalities."

The stigma related to cancer in India is so prevalent that in medical circles around the world, any tumour of an advanced stage is referred to as an "Indian tumour". This is because most Indian women shy away from seeking early treatment.

As a result nearly 30,000 women die without knowing they suffer from the disease.

The numbers will keep on rising till women learn to take their health in their own hands. By Damanjeet Kohli (ANI)

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