The incidence of pregnancy-associated breast cancer appears to be increasing as more women delay childbearing
PUNE: Mrs. Manali (name changed), a 32-year-old teacher who had entered motherhood recently was busy navigating through her new role and managing her profession as a teacher. During her regular breastfeeding course, she felt a lump in her left breast. As a nursing mother, she assumed it to be a breastfeeding-related issue. But Manali was a well-informed woman and did not ignore the lump for too long. She sensed the size of the lump increasing and immediately consulted a few doctors. Most of these doctors and even family and friends advised her to ignore the lump quoting it to be breastfeeding-related.
However, Manali was not comfortable with the lump and did not stop there. She consulted Dr. Ganajana Kanitkar, Consultant Oncosurgeon at Surya Women & Child Super Speciality Hospital- Wakad Pune. With proper investigation and timely consultation, Manali’s lump was detected to be breast cancer. She was immediately advised of proper medication and a breast-conserving surgery was conducted. Manali underwent four cycles of chemotherapy and got cured of her cancer.
Manali is amongst the lesser population of our country who pay heed to their own health and well-being. There are 100s of women, especially new mothers who generally ignore their health and do not take any symptoms seriously. Breast cancer has been studied to be increasing and growing amongst women of age 20-30years.
Dr. Reshma Puranik, Consultant Medical Oncologist at Surya Women & Child Super Speciality Hospital- Wakad Pune says,
‘A large percentage of women in India neglect their health and procrastinate their healthcare needs. Patients like Manali are very few and hence, it becomes imperative for the medical fraternity to create awareness about this and educate patients and their families about the effects of breast cancer. If the problem is detected at the right time, doctors can take the right steps and help patients recover
Pregnancy Associated Breast Cancer (PABC) or Gestational Breast Cancer is defined as breast cancer that is diagnosed during pregnancy or any time during the lactation period. Cancer if detected during this period is predominantly aggressive. Hence, it becomes imperative for women to take proper care and treatment to cure cancer. Pregnant Women or Breastfeeding mothers undergo several changes, especially in their breasts. This makes it challenging for cancer to be diagnosed.
Dr. Kanitkar, who has been practicing for more than two decades shares,
‘Unfortunately, today Breast Cancer is a growing concern for young women. Women under the age of 30, especially new mothers must be aware and educated about its symptoms, dos, and don’ts. They should not ignore any signs and should immediately act if there is any change or discomfort. We have observed that pregnancy-related breast cancer is as rampant as 20% under the age of 30years. But this is also curable if diagnosed at the right juncture’
Once breast cancer is diagnosed in lactating women, they must immediately stop breastfeeding if chemotherapy is planned and speedily move on to proper treatment. This treatment generally depends on the stage of the Tumour and the pregnancy duration. Most pregnancy-related breast cancers are treated with some combination of local therapy and systemic therapy. This treatment may wary when the patient is not pregnant.
The incidence of pregnancy-associated breast cancer is approximately 15 to 35 per 100,000 deliveries which means breast cancer affects approximately 1 in 3000 pregnant women and is the second most common cancer affecting pregnancy.
The most critical aspect of the detection of breast cancer is Awareness. No lump or discomfort around the breast should be taken lightly. This is valid for women of all ages. Breast Cancer, although common amongst lactating women or women in their menopause, can occur at ANY age.
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