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Breast Cancer: Morbidity minimizes with new treatment, reveal doctors

As the theme for this year is “Living Beyond Breast Cancer”, doctors provide insight into how the treatment for breast cancer has seen a major shift over the years.

Sharbani Banerjee | New Delhi | Updated :

Breast Cancer Awareness: With a two percent increase every year, breast cancer cases are being reported in women as early as their 20s and 30s. Doctors attribute this increasing rate of breast cancer cases to a sedentary lifestyle in young girls and food choices.

As October is observed as Breast Cancer Awareness month, doctors underline, “Early detection is the only key to prevention”. Besides, leading a healthy lifestyle and maintaining an ideal body weight are some vital factors that must be followed.

As the theme for this year is “Living Beyond Breast Cancer”, doctors provide insight into how the treatment for breast cancer has seen a major shift over the years.

Line of Treatment

Talking about the treatment of the disease, Dr. P K Julka, Principal Director, Medical Oncology, Max Institute of Cancer Care said, “Treatment for breast cancer patients has seen a paradigm shift from the initial times. In the late 70s, the entire infected breast was surgically removed. With advancements in cancer treatment, both surgical and medication were used for breast cancer patients.”

Dr. Julka further said, “Medications at that time used to arrive from countries abroad to now when the majority of drugs are being produced in India. This has significantly reduced the waiting time as well as the cost of treatment. Owing to the availability of better diagnostics pushed by greater awareness, we have started seeing breast cancer patients in their early stages. These advances have significantly improved the chances of survivors.”

Adding to this, Dr. Harit Chaturvedi, Chairman, of the Max Institute of Cancer Care said, “Early diagnosis of any disease, especially cancer, is the key to better treatment and faster recovery in patients. It also leaves doctors with a greater scope to treat the patient to become nearly completely disease-free. We are hopeful that in the near future, tiny lesions may not require any surgical intervention. This will mean lesser disfiguration and minimum requirement for any cosmetic/plastic surgeries as well”.

Dr. Rajeev Kumar, Sr. Consultant & Chief of Breast Surgical Oncology, Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute & Research Centre (RGCIRC) said, “With the help of advanced oncoplastic surgeries, all breasts can be conserved or reconstructed. Even in the case of large lumps, breasts can be saved as the size of the lumps can be reduced with the help of chemotherapy.”

Dr. Kumar further said, “New techniques of radiation have made it easier to treat breast cancer. Now with the help of new techniques such as IMRT, IGRT, and APBI we can hit the target (tumor) precisely and at the same time save the normal surrounding tissues so that there is minimum morbidity and maximum effect.”

With new treatment methodologies, morbidity has been minimized and the quality of life has increased. A woman is discharged the very next day of breast cancer surgery and resumes her normal work routine within a few days, he added.

According to Dr. Saphalta Baghmar, Senior Consultant, Dept. of Medical Oncology, Amrita Hospital, “Breast self-examination is even more important now with increasing incidence of breast cancer. If incidences of male and female cancers are combined, breast cancer accounts for the highest number. This is due to increasing urbanization and risk factors such as eating junk food, obesity, and sedentary lifestyle.”

Dr Sunny Jain, HOD and Sr Consultant Oncology Marengo QRG Hospital, Faridabad said, “Treatment of breast cancer has been tailored to the genetic level, we are identifying the mutations in the genes of the patient and are targeting the genetic pathways. We have come a long way in hereditary breast cancer and have been able to target the BRACA1 and BRACA2 genes causing the same. Treatment is individualised, relevant, and backed by research and evidence. We don’t have a standard approach for every breast cancer patient. We are using targeted therapy which is directed towards a particular gene or pathway which is responsible for the disease.”