Breast cancer symptoms and causes: Watch out for these warning signs
By: Rukmini Chopra
Published On: October 10, 2018
Do you know the ways with which you can tell if you or your loved one is suffering from breast cancer? Look out for these warning signs before it’s too late…
There are nearly 2.5 million people living with cancer in India currently. Around 7,00,00 cancer cases are registered every year and the number of deaths annually is 5,56,400.
The survival rate in India is just 66%. Some of the most common cancers in India include oral cancer, cervical cancer and breast cancer, which affects 25.8 per 100,000 women.
It is the number one form of cancer in Indian women.
In order to prevent yourself from being a victim of breast cancer, it is essential to understand what breast cancer is and what are its symptoms and cases.
What is breast cancer?
Breast cancer occurs when cells in the tissue start to grow in an uncontrollable manner. As they grow, sometimes cells form a tumor in the breast that can be detected with the help of a mammogram before they can be felt as a lump.
It’s important to note that not all lumps in the breast are cancerous and neither are all breast cancers present with lumps. However, all any kinds of tumors or lumps in the breast needs immediate attention to be detected whether they are cancerous in nature.
Causes of breast cancer
From family genes to lifestyle habits, there are various factors that can cause breast cancer.
1: Inherited genes: According to doctors, around 5-10% of breast cancer cases are caused due to mutations in the genes which are passed through generations within a family.
A number of mutated genes can increase the likelihood of developing breast cancer, gene 1 (BRCA)1) and gene 2 (BRCA2) bein the most common.
2: Family history: A woman who has had a mother or sister diagnosed with cancer is on a higher risk of developing breast cancer than a woman who has had no first-degree relative suffering from the disease.
However it is important to note that 85 % cases of breast cancer in women occur with no family history of breast cancer.
3: A personal history of breast conditions: If you have undergone breast biopsy that detected lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS) or atypical hyperplasia of the breast, then you are at an increased risk of developing breast cancer.
4: A personal history of breast cancer: If you have had breast cancer in one breast, you are at an increased risk of developing cancer in your other breast as well.
5: Ageing: As you age, you are at an increased risk of developing breast cancer
6: Dense breast tissue: Women who have a high percentage of breast tissue have a higher risk of developing breast cancer than those of little or no dense breast tissue. Lumps and tumors can be more difficult to detect in a mammogram.
7: Obesity: Women who are obese are at a higher risk of developing breast cancer.
8: Onset of periods at a young age: If you start your periods early, say at the age of 12, you are at a higher risk for breast cancer.
9: Beginning menopause at an older age: You are more likely to develop cancer in this case
10: Having your first child at an older age: Women who give birth to their first child after 30, are at a higher risk of developing breast cancer
11: Women not undergoing pregnancy: Women who haven’t been pregnant even once in their life are at a higher risk for breast cancer than women who have been pregnant at least once or twice.
12: Exposure to radiation: If you have received treatments in your chest involving radiation, you are at an increased risk of developing breast cancer.
13: Smoking and drinking: Lifestyle habits such as smoking and drinking put women at an increased risk of breast cancer.
14: Nipple discharge: Take it as a serious warning sign if you notice some sort of bloody discharge from your breasts.
Signs and symptoms of breast cancer
Most breast cancer cases can be cured completely if detected in time. Here are the warning signs you should be looking out for:
1: A breast lump: Look out for a lump or a thickening that you feel looks and feels different from the surrounding tissue.
2: Change in appearance: If your breast feels bigger or smaller than the other, or appears to be different in shape, get yourself checked.
3: Dimpling: Look for dimpling on the skin covering the breast
4: Redness or rash: If there is a redness or rash on the breast skin, it could be a symptom of breast cancer. However, it can also be a sign of mastitis, an infection in the breast that occurs in women who are breastfeeding.
5: Crusty skin: If the skin appears to be crusty or flaky around the nipples, take it as a warning sign
6: Inward turned nipple: Sometimes the nipples turn inwards, which should definitely be taken as an alarm
7: Pain in breasts: Sometimes, you may experience a pain in your breasts. However, this can be caused due to other conditions and not necessarily cancer. Plus, it is observed that during early stages, there is mostly no pain experienced in the breasts.
How crowdfunding can help pay for breast cancer treatment
Treatment options for cancer are exorbitant in India, especially in the private healthcare sector. Chemotherapy, radiation therapy surgery etc. can cost anywhere between Rs. 5-8 lakhs, an amount that is a huge burden for the poor and the middle class alike.
More than 80% Indians do not have an insurance cover and most of them are not eligible for loans. Many Indians are forced below poverty line after exhausting their savings on expensive medical treatment. They have no options left other than borrowing money from their loved ones, with the burden of paying the sum back.
Crowdfunding is a reliable alternative that is proving to be a growing success in India. It is a practice through which one can raise funds online with the help of a large crowd. You basically ask each person to contribute a small amount to meet the target amount.
Impact Guru, India’s largest crowdfunding website, has successfully raised funds for patients fighting cancer and helped in saving lives. Read our success stories here.
Crowdfunding is an efficient practice where you don’t have to worry about returning the money, undergoing heavy duty paperwork or waiting for months for your money. It’s a quick way of raising funds- it takes 5 minutes to start a fundraiser! You can start one here.
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