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Author: Dr Nirupama M P

May 2, 2022

Category: Awareness

Last Updated: November 20, 2023

Adapting a simple healthy routine and prioritizing your own health, the keys to good health and well-being.

According to various research studies and cancer statistics released by AIIMS-, India, over 17.3 lakh new cases of cancer are likely to be diagnosed in women by 2020 and will lead to roughly 9 lakh deaths in women due to breast, lung, and cervical cancers. Globally, India ranks among the top two countries on mortality related to women-specific cancers. Breast cancer-related death rates are higher in India. Data shows deaths due to cervical and breast cancer are 1.6 and 1.7 times higher than maternal mortality.1 Breast cancer is the most frequent and common cancer among women. The number of breast cancer cases has increased over the years due to urbanization, western lifestyles and an increase in life expectancy. There is no sufficient knowledge for the cause of breast cancer, hence early detection of the disease is the only way to control breast cancer. If breast cancer is detected early there is often a good chance to get cured of the disease. If detected late curative treatment is not the only way, palliative care to get relief from the suffering from the disease for patients and their family is a need.

WHO has promoted comprehensive national cancer control programs to prevent, detect, diagnose, and treat breast cancer, along with rehabilitation and palliative care for the patients. Raising public awareness on breast cancer and controlling the disease with appropriate policies are the key strategies of the breast cancer control program. An annual campaign every year in October is celebrated as Breast Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM) to spread the awareness of cancer to detect it in the early stage.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM)
Breast Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM): October 2020

October month: A Breast Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM)

The international community has recognized October month as Breast Cancer Awareness Month to increase the attention, support, and awareness of breast cancer. It focuses on early detection, treatment, and palliative care for breast cancer patients. The campaign starts on October 1st and ends on October 31st every year. The theme of 2020 breast cancer awareness is Give Hope. Save Lives and is represented by a pink ribbon to raise awareness and gives hope for the future. The pink ribbon is intended to evoke solidarity with women who are currently diagnosed with breast cancer.

How to detect breast cancer?

Self-examination and early diagnosis can prevent deaths related to breast cancer. Regular breast screening for cancer is important as many women with this disease show no symptoms. Different tests can be conducted to check for the disease. Some of the diagnostic tests for breast cancer include Mammograms, ultrasound, and MRI.

The newer and experimental tests are done through the following methods:

  • Tomosynthesis (3D mammography),
  • Molecular breast imaging (MBI), also known as scintimammography or breast-specific gamma imaging (BSGI), a type of nuclear medicine imaging test for the breast.
  • Positron emission mammography (PEM)
  • Contrast-enhanced mammography (CEM), also known as contrast-enhanced spectral mammography (CESM)
  • Optical imaging tests
  • Elastography

There are several types of breast cancers depending on where the disease originated or based on the molecular features. Types of Breast Cancer Overview:

  • Ductal Carcinoma in Situ (DCIS)
  • Invasive Breast Cancer (IDC/ILC)
  • Triple-negative Breast Cancer (TNBC)

Hormone-positive or negative breast cancer

  • Angiosarcoma of the Breast
  • Inflammatory Breast Cancer
  • Paget’s disease of the Breast

It is important to be aware of breast cancer as early detection is often done through the screen can detect disease at a treatable stage.

What you need to know: Myths and Facts about Breast Cancer

It is hard to explain why women get breast cancer. The biggest risk factors of breast cancer are simply being a woman and growing older. As women grow older the healthy breast cells can develop mutations by themselves and turn into cancer cells. Though many people believe breast cancers are to be hereditary, the fact is the majority of people who get breast cancer have no family history. Only about 5–10% of breast cancers are believed to be hereditary.

There is no guarantee that you will not get breast cancer if you maintain good health. Although eating healthy, avoiding alcohol, and maintaining a healthy weight can lower the risk of breast cancer, there is no evidence that these factors will lower the risk of cancer. So along with managing your health, self-examination, and regular screening of the breast is important to treat cancer in the early stages.

Myths and Facts:

Many women believe that wearing a bra, especially an under-wire styled bra causes breast cancer. However, a study carried out in 2014 over 1500 women with breast cancer concluded that there is no link between wearing a bra and breast cancer.

An underarm antiperspirant containing aluminium and other chemicals could increase the risk of breast cancer, as the chemicals will be absorbed into the lymph nodes and reach the breast cells. However, there is no evidence of this theory. But studies revealed that women who use aluminium-containing antiperspirants showed a higher concentration of aluminium in the breast tissues.

Women who carry cell phones in the bra has a high risk of breast cancer. There is no evidence to prove this, but it is better to keep the cell phones away from the body as much as possible, though it emits low energy radiation compared to high energy radiation emitted by X-rays.

Most Common Myth-

There is a common myth that eating too much sugar can lead to breast cancer. It is a fact that cancer cells absorb sugar more quickly than normal cells, but there is no evidence that sugar causes breast cancer. For good health, it is always better to cut down on sugar intake.

Can we examine breast cancer by ourselves?

You cannot always identify breast cancer by self-examination since breast cancer does not always cause a lump. By the time lump starts to show up cancer might have moved beyond the breast into the lymph nodes. It is always better to self-examine but it cannot be a substitute for regular screening with mammography.

Depending on the various factors such as the location (ducts vs. lobules), the size, stage, and grade of cancer. The treatment varies since not all breast cancers are the same.

When to take steps?

Women of all ages need to pay attention to their breast since breast cancer does not happen only to middle-aged and older women. Breast cancer can be found in younger women and even in men. Although breast cancer is rarer in men, as they do not have breast, but they do have breast tissues. Often breast cancer in men diagnosed in the more advanced stages since the breast changes or lumps does not lead men to think of breast cancer.

Breast cancer awareness is must!

The lack of awareness, fear, social and familial stigma, misconceptions, negligence, lack of priority given by women on her own body. The myth which is carried from generations has created enumerated barriers for women to visit hospitals. even to report early symptoms of the disease. Hence it is important to focus on these issues and target to bring awareness of breast cancer both in men and women. In this regard the breast cancer awareness month is an important campaign. It focuses to bring awareness and effective control of breast cancer.

Thus, it is important to introspect, change the mindset and be aware of our own body. A regular self-examination to check on any symptoms and reporting them at the early stage can help treat the breast cancer on time. Adapting a simple healthy routine and prioritizing your own health, the keys to staying fit and healthy.

Give your body a little Love & Be aware of it!


  1. In India, 10 lakh new cases of cancer detected every year – Times of India (indiatimes.com) ↩︎

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