Reduce your risk

Reduce your risk

There have been several advances in the treatment of breast cancer which offer a personalised approach and aim to maximise the benefit with minimal...

There have been several advances in the treatment of breast cancer which offer a personalised approach and aim to maximise the benefit with minimal toxicity. Here are five key things to know before a patient starts planning her breast cancer treatment:

Early detection really makes a difference

Breast cancer is no longer a fatal diagnosis today. If it is detected at an early stage, the chance of effective treatment and complete cure is quite high. Women need to be proactive about their health and seek medical help as soon as possible especially if they detect lump in the breast or feel any abnormality in the breasts.

Routine mammograms should be encouraged in all women over the age of 45- 50 years once in 1-2 years as part of health screening. It is vitally important not to delay any visit to the doctor if there is any doubt.

Accurate diagnosis is essential

Breast cancer is a very heterogenous disease. Every breast cancer is not are the same, so it'scrucial to get an accurate diagnosisand an adequate tissue sample for determining the type of breast cancer, the location of the tumour and the stage of the disease.

These can determine the specific type of treatment the patient will need. It is also important to seek an opinion at an oncology center that has a multidisciplinary team to take care of each patient.

Not every patient has the same cancer

We understand breast cancer better today. Depending onthe type of cancer, the age of the patient, the stage and some molecular tests, an oncologist will tailor a specific treatment plan for each individual patient. Thus different patients may get different treatments and have different outcomes as well.

Every early-stage breast cancer patient doesn't need chemotherapy

Early-stage patients belonging to a specific subset (hormone positive cancers) do have the option to avoid chemotherapy and the associated side-effects. Cancer treatment is very challenging and can be very tough on the patient and their family.

Diagnostic tests are now available which can help decide which patients need chemotherapy and which patients have a low enough risk of relapse to avoid chemotherapy completely. While there are several validated tests available these are often expensive and the routine use of these tests is not feasible for most patients. There are alternatives like a test called "CanAssist-Breast", developed by an Indian company called OncoStem Diagnostics which are available in India, though international trials are pending.

Treatment options are available which are more affordable and can lead to a better quality of life.

Science and technology have advanced breast cancer care to a great degree, giving patients more treatment options.The aim of treatment today is not only cancer cure but also maintaining the quality of life such that the person enjoys as normal a life as possible.

If someone has early-stage disease, they have the chance to opt for breast conservation surgery rather than mastectomy (removal of the whole breast). This is associated with better body image and psychosocial outcomes in women. Encouragingly, there are several companies in India that make quality generic medicines at a fraction of the cost of the medicines available globally, making it possible for Indian patients to get quality care.

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