In 2020 alone, about 6,85,000 women in the world died due to breast cancer. This number is enormous for a disease that is treatable if detected at the right time. Every year about 2.3 million women are diagnosed with breast cancer.
Most women are not aware of the warning signs of breast cancer that can help them detect it at an early stage. But the awareness is increasing slowly. People are now becoming more vigilant about breast cancer.
But there is a lot of confusion and doubts. “Why is left breast cancer more common?”, “How many chemo treatments for breast cancer?” and “What are the Breast cancer treatment guidelines 2021?” are some of the questions that riddle people’s minds
Through this article, we aim to address all these questions. We will discuss breast cancer in detail and provide you with all the information you need to recognize the warning signs of breast cancer. We will talk about breast cancer treatment cost in India according to its stage.
Feel free to skip ahead if one topic catches your eye:
- What is Breast Cancer?
- What are Warning Signs of Breast Cancer?
- How is it Diagnosed?
- Breast Cancer Treatment in 2021.
- Benefits of choosing India for Breast Cancer Treatment?
1. What is Breast Cancer?
Breast cancer is a kind of malignant growth that begins in the breast tissue. While breast cancer is most common in women, men can also get breast cancer. In 2020, about 2,650 men were diagnosed with breast cancer, which accounted for less than 1% of all cases.
Breast cancer occurs when the cells of the breast tissue start dividing without any control. This leads to the formation of a hard breast lump. But it is important to remember that there are other causes for breast lumps. Also, most breast lumps are of benign origin (non-cancerous). But no breast lump should be taken lightly and should be immediately reported to a doctor.
Different types of breast cancer have been defined based on the cells that divide uncontrollably and lead to the formation of breast cancer. Malignant growths in the breast can also be differentiated based on whether they have spread out or not.
Non-invasive breast cancers include:
- Ductal carcinoma in-situ
- Lobular carcinoma in-situ
Invasive breast cancers include:
- Invasive ductal carcinoma
- Invasive lobular carcinoma
- Locally invasive breast cancer
- Inflammatory breast cancer
- Metastatic breast cancer
- Paget’s disease of the nipple
- Phyllodes tumors of the breast
Breast cancer is staged based on criteria like the size of the tumor, the extent of spread, and whether it is responsive to hormones. Staging is essential to determine the prognosis of the disease and in deciding the suitable treatment for the patient.
Breast cancer is divided into five stages, with stage 0 being the non-invasive stage and stage IV being the metastatic disease.
- Stage 0
- Stage I
- Stage II
- Stage III
- Stage IV
2. What are Warning Signs of Breast Cancer?
Different symptoms can occur in different patients. Some of these symptoms include:
- Lump in the breast or armpit
- Swelling in a part of the breast
- Dimpling or wrinkling of the skin over the breast
- Redness in the nipple or breast area
- Discharge from the nipple
- Pain in the breast
- Change in shape or size of the breast
These symptoms can be present in other conditions affecting the breast as well. High suspicion of breast cancer is there if you have any of the following symptoms:
- A breast lump that is rapidly increasing in size
- Severe pain or redness in the breast
- Discharge from the nipple, especially bloody discharge.
As cancer grows in size and spreads, the patient might begin to experience complications like:
- Pain associated with cancer
- Bone complications
- Bone pain
- Spinal compression, etc
- Lung complications
- Shortness of breath
- Persistent cough
- Chest pain, etc
- Liver complications
- Sudden loss of weight
- Fullness in the stomach
- Jaundice, etc
- Brain complications
- Frequent headaches
- Seizures, etc
3. How is it Diagnosed?
Most women start experiencing symptoms of breast cancer only when cancer starts spreading. Treating breast cancer at such a later stage becomes relatively difficult, and mortality in the later stages of breast cancer is much higher than in the early stages.
The best method of detecting breast cancer in the early stages is to conduct regular breast self-examinations. This is based on the changes you can see or feel in comparison to your normal breast. This includes the following steps:
Stand bare-chested in front of a mirror, with your hands at your sides, and look at your breasts. Do they appear normal? Do you notice any change in the color or texture of the skin? Do you observe any lump? Is there any discharge from the nipple? Check to see if your nipples are turned inwards. Repeat this procedure with your arms overhead and palms pressing together.
Examine by using your hands
You can do this either by standing up or lying down. Lying down is preferred because your breast tissue spreads out thin, making it easier to feel for any changes.
- Use your finger pads to feel for changes.
- Apply different amounts of pressure while examining. Low pressure for areas just below the skin and increase pressure to feel the structures present deeper in the breast.
- Go systematically so that you do not miss out on any area of the breast.
- Do not rush the process, and take your time to examine each area of your breast correctly.
If you feel any changes, report these to your doctor immediately. Do not panic because most lumps of the breast are non-cancerous. Although the self-examination is not entirely reliable because some lesions can still be missed, it can still detect lumps in the early stages in many women.
Apart from this, certain radiological tests and investigations can be done to diagnose breast cancer. These include:
- Mammogram (Breast X-Ray)
- Breast ultrasound
- Breast biopsy
- Breast MRI
- Blood tests
Your doctor would suggest these tests for you to determine the probable cause of the lump, extent of carcinoma, the composition of cancer, treatment strategies, prognosis, etc.
4. Breast Cancer Treatment in 2021
The choice of breast cancer treatment depends on many factors like the type of cancer, its stage and grade, size of the growth, and whether the tumor is responsive to hormones. Your health and expectations will also be taken into account. Treatment options for people include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, etc.
The exact treatment options depend on the stage of cancer.
Women with stages I, II, and III are often treated with surgery (the mainstay of treatment), usually followed by radiation therapy. Some of the other medications that are used along with these are:
- Hormone therapy like tamoxifen, aromatase inhibitors, etc
- HER2 targeted drugs, such as trastuzumab and pertuzumab
- A combination of these drugs can also be used for further treatment.
The patient can experience certain complications or side-effects due to the breast cancer treatment, such as:
- Pain and numbness (peripheral neuropathy)
- Dental problems
- Musculoskeletal problems
- Bone loss and osteoporosis
- Hair fall
- Mouth sores
For women with stage IV cancer, systemic drug therapies are the mainstay of treatment. These drug groups include the following:
- Hormone therapy
- Targeted drugs
- A combination of all these drugs
Cost of breast cancer treatment in India:
The cost depends on the stage of cancer and the treatment strategies that are used for it. The cost will also change depending on whether you want implants. On average, breast cancer treatment in India can cost anywhere between 2000 USD to 7000 USD ( INR 1,50,000 to INR 5,00,000).
|Breast cancer Stage||Cost in USD||Cost in INR|
|Stage 0||Starting from 1500 USD||Approx INR 1,10,000|
|Stage I||Starting from 2000 USD||Approx INR 1,45,000|
|Stage II||Starting from 3500 USD||Approx INR 1,55,000|
|Stage III||Starting from 4500 USD||Approx INR 3,30,000|
|Stage IV||Starting from 1500 USD||Approx INR 1,10,000|
Traditionally, the only available treatment option was surgery (mastectomy), where a part of the breast or the complete breast was removed to treat cancer. Now with a better understanding of the disease, we have targeted drugs that can help cure cancer, and hence, the women do not need to undergo surgery to remove their breasts. Due to this, nowadays, primarily partial mastectomy or lumpectomy is performed in most cases.
Breast cancer treatment is a life-saving procedure. Getting your breast cancer treatment is essential even during COVID times. It is possible to get your treatment in India even during COVID because we follow all the necessary COVID guidelines to ensure your safety.
Planning your journey is also very important during these times. You should have all your documents ready for the treatment. These include:
- A negative COVID report
- Your passport
- Medical VISA
- Proof of residential address
- Proof of required funds
- Recommendation from the home country doctor to visit a particular specialized medical center for treatment
- Medical documents of the treatments
- Check your Insurance (If any)
- Passport copy of attendant
- Proof of relation with the attendant
5. Benefits of choosing India for Breast Cancer Treatment?
India is one of the best countries to get breast cancer treatment. A lot of factors make India the best destination for breast cancer treatment.
Skilled and Experienced Oncologists
India has the most skilled and qualified oncologists in the world. The Breast Cancer Surgeons in India perform the treatment with great care and precision that ensures you the best results.
The best part about getting the surgery done from India is that you not only get the best medical facilities in the world, but you also get them at the most affordable costs.
Ease in Medical Visa
It is relatively easy to get a medical visa for treatment in India. Medinirvana will help you get the medical visa and all the other necessary documents with ease, so you do not have to worry about all these formalities.
Safety in covid situation
We take all the necessary precautions and follow all COVID-related protocols strictly to safeguard you and your family members from the COVID virus.
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