Like any recently married woman in her early thirties, Alpana was looking to start a family. The world came crashing down on her and her family when she was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer. Regular course of treatment would have taken 1 year of chemotherapy along with 5 years of hormonal therapy. During this period, Alpana would not have been able to conceive.
As a ray of hope, her treating Doctor informed her that the tumour was small which meant that she could manage it along with her pregnancy. The doctor also explained to her the option of fertility preservation if chemotherapy or hormone therapy are to be given to her as part of regular treatment. However, that would mean that she had to wait for another 5-6 years to conceive. Considering that she was already in her 30s, it was a difficult decision for Alpana. This is when her doctor suggested doing prognostication of the disease to plan the next course of treatment.
CanAssist Breast test was performed on Alpana’s tumor sample and the tumor was classified as ‘low-risk’ for cancer recurrence. What did this mean to Alpana? It meant that she could skip chemotherapy and take a year to conceive and deliver a baby, after which hormone therapy can be started for 5 years. Alpana did exactly that and delivered a healthy baby. It’s been 5 years since diagnosis, she enjoys being a doting mother to her child. She is currently doing well and has shown promising progress on hormonal therapy. CanAssist Breast was a life changing decision for Alpana and her family. We at OncoStem are exceedingly happy that we could help Alpana and family in our small way!
When your loved one has breast cancer, it is as scary for them as it is for you. By being sensitive to their needs and gently caring for them, you can show them your support during the process. These are a few things you can do to help out a breast cancer patient in the family:
- Always be there for them: Not only is the medical side of breast cancer worrisome, but it is also mentally taxing to visit a doctor given the gravity of the situation. In such situations having support from a family member is comforting. Even otherwise, they will feel more comfortable to have family around, which provides them with mental support. However, they might not want to make everyone busy at all times. Assure them that you want to do this because you love
- Exercise Together: Taking an evening walk or assisting your loved one in their recommended exercises, or fitness regimes together will help uplift their mood. You could even meditate or do yoga together. Having an exercise partner often motivates people to do it regularly. It will also
be a good way to release tension during such stressful times.
- Plan Fun Activities but do not go overboard: Planning activities for your loved one will keep them distracted and make them feel good. It is important that you do not overdo it because that might begin having an opposite reaction on their mental health. They do not need to feel like they are being a burden in any way, even if you mean well with the activities. Keep it slow and simple. Take them to a nearby park, cook them their favourite food. Make sure their health
permits them to do the activity while also having some fun.
- Treat Them: Give them flowers, cook them their favourite meals, or play them their favourite songs – small activities like these will make your loved ones feel good. It’s also important to check the diet for breast cancer patients after surgery to help them fight the weakness due to surgery. It can uplift their mood and boost the spirits of everyone else in the house. These do not have to be things that last for hours either. Simple gestures and small treats can go a long way.
- Talk About It: Breast cancer patients are not the only one who has to face it all. It does not mean that just because you are not affected you cannot express fear. Communicate your
feelings, let them know you are there and a part of their journey. You may think that being a
family member is something obvious, but expressing it loud will make them feel loved, supported and stronger. They are suffering, in pain, and scared but your presence will ease the
process for them.
- Be responsible: You can take up the responsibilities of your loved one suffering from breast cancer. Things like booking appointments and providing them with their medication on time can provide a sense of accomplishment in their journey and will make them feel better.
- Take Care of Yourself Too: While the patient is going through a lot, they will rely on you to stay strong. If you fall apart from the stress, how will you help out your loved one? Express what you feel, talk to someone and get help on this. Get an adequate amount of sleep every night. Eat properly. Ensure that you have not forgotten to take care of yourself. You are on this journey with them and it is necessary for them, as well as for you, to stay healthy.
- Join Support Groups: Knowing stories of cancer survivors can bring hope in the life of your loved one. Sharing similar experiences can lessen the burden of the disease and will make your loved one feel better. Having a common platform and understanding that there are other people on a similar journey proves comforting. As a family member, you can check if there are support groups for loved ones, or if the patient’s group is inclusive of you.
With the increase in the number of breast cancer cases in India, the fear of cancer is on the rise. One cannot prevent breast cancer but can increase the survival rates by being informed and choosing the right treatment at the right time. Patients diagnosed with breast cancer need planned and systemic therapy, which is personalized based on their cancer condition.
Here are some alarming facts about breast cancer in India that will help patients understand breast cancer and the reason to opt for a personalized treatment :
• Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in India.
• Breast cancer is the most common cancer in most cities and the second most common in rural India.
• Breast cancer accounts for 25% to 32% of female cancers in all cities across India.
• In India, one woman is diagnosed with breast cancer every 4 minutes.
• One woman dies of breast cancer, every 13 minutes in India.
• An estimated 70,218 women died of breast cancer in India, in the year 2012, the highest in the world for that year.
• Only 60% of women who are treated for breast cancer, survive for at least five years post-treatment in India as compared to 89% in the US.
• The high mortality rate is due to the lack of awareness and delay in screening and diagnosis.
• More than 50% of breast cancer patients in India are suffering from stage 3 and 4, where the chances of survival are extremely low.
• India sees a spurt in the cases of breast cancer in the age group of 30 to 50, and the same is likely to increase.
• Breastfeeding often interrupts periods, which leads to fewer menstrual cycles and less estrogen exposure, leading to about a 4.3 percent reduction in the overall risk of breast cancer for every 12 months of breastfeeding.
• According to the National Institute of Health, breast cancer survivors are at an increased risk of osteoporosis. Estrogen has a protective effect on bones, and reduced estrogen levels can trigger bone loss.
Breast cancer cannot be prevented but it can surely be treated within time. Here are some things that all of us can do :
• Be aware and spread about breast cancer diagnosis, symptoms, breast cancer recurrence tests, and the right treatment.
• Learn about self-tests and regularly examine your breasts on your own.
• Visit an oncologist if you feel any abnormalities in your breasts.
• Early detection is a blessing. It means breast cancer can be treated, and you have the chance to live a healthy life post-recovery.
• Stage 1 and 2 breast cancer patients are eligible to take breast cancer recurrence prediction test namely CanAssist Breast to find out their recurrence risk score.
• Depending on the score, the doctor and patient can personalize their treatment.
Talk to more people and spread the word about breast cancer, treatments and medical tests like CanAssist Breast that can help in personalizing breast cancer treatment by letting the patient know their breast cancer recurrence risk score.
To know more about CanAssist Breast, please click here or drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Women in their 30s/40s can and do get breast cancer, raising the need for young women to be breast aware. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), 1 in 8 women is diagnosed with breast cancer at some point during their lives. Having said this, not all the lumps are cancerous. Here are a few things that you must consider to get started with breast cancer:
Your breasts can speak to you
Most of the women experience breast cancer symptoms such as a painless lump or mass, skin irritation, an inward turning nipple; pain in the nipple or breast; nipple discharge, thickening of the nipple or breast skin, scaliness, redness, and breast swelling. But, how many of us pay attention to these symptoms?.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, bring it to your doctor’s attention.
Breast cancer doesn’t need a family history
You might not have any family history of breast cancer, but that can’t be an assurance of you not getting diagnosed with breast cancer. As per the American Cancer Society, more than 85 percent of women who get breast cancer have no family history of cancer. Most of the women who find a lump in the breast think they needn’t worry as they have no family history of cancer. But, the truth is that even if you have no family history, you are still at risk of getting breast cancer over your lifetime.
High-risk factors are relative
The term ‘high risk’ is scientifically used by oncologists to determine the chances of cancer. There is no standard definition of what truly constitutes high-risk. It means that someone has a higher cancer risk than someone without any risk factors.
Here are a few breast cancer risk factors as per the National Cancer Institute :
- Excess alcoholism
- Getting your first menstrual period before age 12
- Giving birth for the first time after age 30
- Never being pregnant
- Starting menopause at an older age
- Having a close relative with breast cancer
Regular mammograms are a must
Some experts believe forty is the right age to get mammograms whereas a few recommend that women over fifty years must get mammograms once every two years. As breast cancer is age-related, most women prefer mammograms once they are in their fifties. However, considering the overall health of women, it’s better women start annual mammograms once they’re in their forties.
Talk to your doctor about when you should start getting mammograms and how often you should get them.
Breast self-examination is a preventive measure
Taking a monthly breast self-exam will serve as a preventive measure. Earlier the detection of breast cancer, better is the treatment planning. Regular breast self-exams will let you know the presence of lumps (if any), and you can consult an oncologist accordingly.
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