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Breast Cancer: a major threat to women

Women play the key role in each and every family. In today's world women are walking parallel to men leading the world and the society towards progress. Women represent the beauty of a Country and Nation. In a country like India where women share a special and necessary status, is even worship like Goddesses. Thus they serve the society and a family in many forms. For example, no one other can care like a Mother, A Sister's love cannot be compared with others or there cannot be a better friend than a Wife.

From the last few years women are going through a major threat. This threat may scratch the beauty and even the life of a woman. From last two decades women are been found as the highest victims of Cancer. The reasons behind the disease are countless and the exact and the root cause it yet to be known. But a woman of any age or stage can get the disease so called cancer in any stage as this disease neither love the young or respect the elders. It is seen that the North Eastern part of India is turning to be the stock house of cancer, so the women of this region are struggling the most.

In a country like India, where the education means the ability to write the name, it is not possible to spread the awareness and the actual concept of the disease among the people living in Tribal Belts and Remote Villages. Lack of communications, poverty etc. are the other reasons that are forcing the normal people to stay aloof from the rest of the world. In one hand the world is making fast and successful progresses, the rural people in India including the North Eastern states are still living with the Ancient Beliefs and Superstition.

Women may suffer from various kinds of cancers like Endometrial, Ovary etc. They may suffer from other cancers also as like men like Lung, Liver Stomach, Bone etc. In India the most common cancer in women is the Cervical cancer. But globally, the cancer from which most of the women are suffering is the Breast Cancer. It is true the cancer in the second major cause of death among the world population after the Heart diseases but the breast cancer is the second most killer on women after the lung cancer. So the awareness is not only necessary but is must for every single woman to prevent the disease.

Cancer means Death and the treatments are useless- that is what the mentality and thinking of a normal person in India. People still are unknown of the recent researches and findings of the Medical Science. In few parts of the country, it is seen that the people prefer to undergo rural or traditional treatments that worsen a patient's condition. In some regions the cancer is said to be a curse some evil deeds. Sometimes a woman with cancer is also compared with a witch that may bring digester in a family or society. Many women in India cannot be frank with the Doctors or Medical personals due to embarrassment and cannot share their sufferings and problems.

Tobacco and Alcohol consumption are found to be the major causes behind cancer. These two causes also provide aids to support the breast cancer. In India and Indonesia, tobacco is taken in oral forms too. In tribal zones in India, women practice the consumption of tobacco and alcohol equally like men. These practices slowly helps to form a cancerous tumour in the breast that later may spread to other organs too.

Exposure directly to the sunlight or radiation is another cause of the breast cancer. However it is very rare in Islamic countries and India but in European countries it is one of the major causes. Unhealthy diets and lack of physical activities can also be the causes as these habits alters the body's mechanism leading to the lowering down of the immunity and misbalancing the hormone level.

Most of the women are found using anti contraceptive pills and other hormone based medicines for personal reasons. This sort of medicines increases the risk of getting the breast cancer. Genetical factors and past family history of breast cancer can be also the other causes. Cancer in other organs may also later lead to the cancer in the breast.

Urbanization of the society is supporting the women to go after the ill practices that unknowingly support the cancer. A woman in a modern society always prefers alcohol, tobacco in smoke form, junk foods and hormone based medicines for many reasons like weight control, terminate pregnancy, mental relaxation etc.

Breast self examination is the best way to check the breasts for a cancer and for early detection. A woman has to only dedicate 10 minutes daily. She has to stand in front of the mirror to check the size and symmetry of both the breasts and nipples and to squeeze both the breasts and nipples for any kind of abnormal discharge. Later to check for any change in colour of the breast skin along with any abnormal formation on it. And at the end to palpate lightly both the breast for any lump or tumor. If any sort of change is seen, a patient should consult a Doctor immediately without wasting a moment because the cancer never kills a patient but the delay always.

Heaviness on the chest or breast, pain, swelling, unusual discharge from the breast or nipple, change in colour of the breast skin or ulcerous formation on the breast are the warning signs of breast cancer.

The people of Assam are struggling from a long time. During the Ahoms rule, the people of this state had to fight with the Moughals. Later they had to fight the Burmese and then British. During independence they fought against becoming a part of East Pakistan, now Bangladesh and after independence against the attack of the Chinese. Now they are fighting against problems like illegal infiltration of foreigners, terrorism, corruption, earthquake, flood, landslide etc. But along with these problems, now it is the time to fight against the disease called cancer.

Cancer never discriminates regarding age, colour, creed, region, religion, language or tribe. There are over 200 different types of cancers exist but breast cancer if only a type of it. When the cancer struck, a particular tissue or organ, it attacks other organs or part of the body like an enemy. It intrudes into other organ like an illegal intruder making the cell go abnormal. It spreads like a terrorist that if not be controlled in the initial stage will spread the terror everywhere. It brings digesters like flood, landslide or alcohol. Cancer in breast may spread to lung, liver or even bones.

In simple words, Cancer is a disease that is curable. The prognosis of breast cancer after treatment is much better than other cancer. But it should be early detected in the initial stage and properly treated on time. As like a strong wall of a house, our body is made up of living cells. A cell normally matures, divides and dies. Due to some reasons a cell gets distract from the normal programmatic physiological path, its divides abnormally giving rise to a lump or Tumour. This lump or tumour can be non cancerous, that does not spread (Benign) or Cancerous, that may spread to distant place through blood or lymph (Malignant). The most common site of occurrence of breast cancer is the upper outer part of the breast closer to the arm. According to the size of the tumour, involvement of lymph nodes and other organs the stages of breast cancer are divided into four stages. Cancer aiding substances or Carcinogens produces free radicals, lack of healthy diet or malnutrition, hormonal imbalance etc in a woman’s body may destroy the DNA structure of a cell, alter the process of cell division and lead a normal cell go abnormal to cause the breast cancer.

Having healthy food and regular exercises, avoiding tobacco and alcohol, avoiding hormone based medicines, avoiding direct sunlight and harmful radiations, following the breast self examination, being slim and avoiding obesity should be done to say away from the pain and complication of the breast cancer. Glowing and soft skin, long and straight hairs, deep eyes, pink and rosy lips, ultra slim physique etc. does not mean the complete beauty. A woman has to be healthy too. Staying healthy does not mean only to stay disease free but it also means to be aware of warning symptoms of all diseases. Prevention is always better than cure and this way the women can take care and preserve their beauty that is God gifted.

(On the Occasion of Breast Cancer Awareness Month)

Dr. Gitartha Roymedhi, MD
Medical Officer, North East Cancer Hospital and Research Institute

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