Last year 52 year old Martha attended a master health check up at MIOT hospitals. Her digital mammogram showed a problem at the upper outer quadrant of her left breast. She was referred to the surgical oncology department and on clinical examination, it was found that there was a lump in her left breast which was firm, painless and mobile. To confirm the doubt a contrast enhanced mammogram was done. Martha was suffering from breast cancer.
To start with she was apprehensive with the mutilation of her breasts. Martha’s physician told her that surgery for breast cancer does not involve mutilation, as it did before. The hair loss related to chemotherapy would also be temporary. She required six cycles of chemo, three weeks apart, which was completed without any complication, but for the hair loss.
Breast cancer treatment includes multimodality approach. Surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, hormonal treatment all play a role. Surgery was the first choice of treatment, before a complete metastatic workup was done. Also a chemo port device was inserted under her right collar bone to facilitate painless delivery of chemotherapy. After three weeks she underwent chemotherapy.
Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide. The reasons for this can vary from modifiable factors, such as obesity, age at the time of the birth of the first child and duration of breast feeding, to non-modifiable factors such as family history, age, gender etc.
Familial contribution to the etiology is probably less than 10 percent. Not knowing facts often makes women of reproductive age group over apprehensive.
Breast cancer is a curable disease in this modern era. All it needs is awareness and a well structured screening programme. Regular self examination, attending regular screening, clinical breast examination and biopsy of any suspicious area are important.
Martha’s hair has grown back today, and today she regularly gets a check up done, even as she is actively engaged in her duties.