Breast cancer is a disease that has historically plagued women above the age of 50 across the world. However, a recent study conducted by ‘The Pink Initiative’, an NGO, suggests that breast cancer is increasingly afflicting younger women – with as many as 50% of the patients between the age group of 25-40. Recent reports also suggest that the illness has grown by over 250% in the past decade. As many as 1.3 lakh cases of breast cancer are being reported every year as opposed to about 54,000 a decade ago, making breast cancer awareness a pressing issue that needs to be addressed immediately.

The World Cancer Day theme for 2017 is ‘We Can I Can’. A theme designed to emphasize that every individual can play a crucial role in the global battle against the disease. As a result, we at Meenakshi Hospital Thanjavur (MHT) are spreading awareness on effective breast cancer treatments that can ease the life of patients to a great extent.

An overview of common breast cancer treatments

While breast cancer is certainly a life-threatening disease, there are treatments, such as Radical Mastectomy and Modified Radical Mastectomy, that can help patients recover completely.

In Radical Mastectomy the patient’s affected breast or breasts, pectoral muscles, and lymph nodes are completely removed. Whereas, in Modified Radical Mastectomy (MRM) the pectoral muscles of the patient are saved. However, both procedures involve the removal of breasts and have led to poor post-surgery lifestyle among the patients.

What is Breast Conservation Treatment?

On the occasion of International Cancer Day, we want to showcase one of the most effective breast cancer treatments – Breast Conservation Treatment (BCT).

BCT is a new form of treatment that involves the removal of only a part of the breast tissue affected by cancer, as opposed to removing the entire organ. The procedure involves a Breast Conservation Surgery (BCS) and whole breast radiotherapy. With BCT, we have seen high survival rates and low recurrence rates that are at par with the popular MRM procedure.

Why Breast Conservation Treatment?

As part of our efforts towards World Cancer Awareness Day, we learned that BCT is one of the most effective forms of treatment for breast cancer globally but despite its effectiveness is still not as popular in India.

To better understand this, on the occasion of Cancer Day in India, we conducted a study surveying several breast cancer patients who had undergone MRM. It was aimed at assessing the lifestyle of the women post surgery.

This study has helped us unravel some alarming findings. As many as 30% of the patients said that they were neglected by their spouse. In fact, many of these women had been abandoned by their husbands, probably because men couldn’t reconcile to their wife’s breast removal, despite having supported the decision initially. In addition, almost 73% of the women reported that the MRM surgery had a negative impact on their body image, and about 38% reported a negative attitude towards sex.

This is one of the primary reasons we at MHT recommend BCT to breast cancer patients. BCT is effective in treating breast cancer as well as boosting better body image and improving psychological adjustment.

Breast Conservation Treatment and MHT

At MHT, we have been offering BCT to our patients since 2006. However, we have seen that many patients opt for MRM as they think removing an organ would reduce the chances of a relapse, which is not true.

To counter such misconceptions, we have been educating our patients as well as the general populace as part of our World Cancer Day 2017 awareness efforts. Our attempts this World Cancer Day date focus on ensuring that patients recover from breast cancer and lead better and more fulfilling lives after their treatment.