The rise in breast cancer: a situation in India to worry about

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In India, breast cancer is spreading at a very rapid speed for the last ten years. It is also becoming the most common cancer in the country now. This situation is not just related to urban areas. Instead, several cases are appearing in the rural areas as well.

According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, in 2018, around 162,468 females were affected by breast cancer. An estimate of 87,090 deaths is recorded due to breast cancer. About 23.5% of cancer deaths are associated with breast cancer.

If we talk about the past, cervical cancer was the most common cancer in India about two decades ago. It was cervical cancer with which most of the deaths were associated.

The other alarming situation is the rise in breast cancer cases in younger people mostly. The majority of affected women are in the age of thirties and forties. The ratio of affected patients is also double that of the United States.

What are the apparent reasons behind this alarming situation? How could it be improved or prevented? Before exploring these questions, let’s have a look at a little introduction about breast cancer. What happened to the body in it? What are its apparent symptoms?

Breast cancer and its symptoms

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Breast cancer develops in the cells of breasts, in which cells produce out of control. There are various categories of this cancer depending upon the type of cell that grows abnormally.

Its symptoms include:

  • Sudden change in the size of any breast
  • Redness or swelling in one or both breast
  • Discharge from nipple (not breast milk)
  • Feel of having lumps in any breast
  • Irritation in breasts
  • Sudden change in the breast’s complexion

If any person feels such symptoms, she must report them promptly to avoid any severe outcome or complication.


The treatment of breast cancer depends upon its stage. If it is earlier diagnosed, it is easy to treat it.  However, various treatment options include:

  • Chemotherapy
  • Surgery
  • Hormonal therapy
  • Radiotherapy

Proper screening methods, early diagnosis, and suitable treatment techniques can help us tackle this disease.

Causes of the rise in breast cancer in India:

Many factors are contributing to the growing number of breast cancer in India. Let’s check them one by one.

1.      Air pollution:

During specific periods like menopause and pregnancy, women are more vulnerable to environmental pollution. Many studies support the link between air pollution and a greater risk of breast cancer. According to Bloomberg, 14 Indian cities are among the worst 30 cities regarding particulate pollution. With an excess of air pollution, India’s population is at higher risk of developing breast cancer.

2.      Family history

If a person has a family history of breast cancer, she is at greater risk of having it. In India, several cases are increasing; there are greater chances of having a family’s breast cancer history. So, the chances of having breast cancer in the future generation are also high.

3.      High obesity rate

India’s obesity rate is overgrowing that. It is estimated that the quality of obesity will be triple by 2040. Obesity is a known risk factor for breast cancer. An obese person is having a greater chance of developing breast cancer. so, in India, the population is at greater risk of developing breast cancer.

4.      More use of alcohol

According to a survey,  in 2016, alcohol consumption was estimated to be 5.4 billion liters. By 2020, the rate of alcohol consumption was raised to 6.5 billion liters.

Several studies support the link between alcohol and greater chances of cancer (any cancer.

Preventive measures for control of rising in breast cancer

Proper measures need to be taken to control the rate of breast cancer,

1.      Awareness campaigns

The government of India should invest in running various awareness campaigns for breast cancer. People must have basic knowledge about risk factors and symptoms of it. Females should know how to do a self-examination of breasts from time to time to check any abnormality. All this information can be spread by effective use of social media platforms. This awareness step will not prevent it but help detect and tackle it in the beginning and increase the survival rate.

2.      Easy access to a radiologist

According to a rough estimate, there is only one radiologist to deal it around 100,000 people.  The government must ensure that people have easy access to a radiologist. The number of radiologists should be increased by either hiring foreign radiologists or encouraging doctors to join this field.

3.      Proper screening and mammograms

The government should ensure that people have access to facilities like proper screening tests and mammograms as it detects breast cancer earlier if appropriate screening tests are adopted. There are also 90 % survival chances in case of diagnosis in stage I. An annual mammogram should be done in females (mostly 50 to 75 years of age).

4.      Healthy diet and weight.

The public needs to understand the importance of having a healthy diet plan in life. The eating habits of people need to be changed. Mediterranean diet is associated with is reducing the risk of having breast cancer. This diet plan focuses more on fruits, whole grains, and vegetables. This diet will help to have a healthy weight and reduce obesity (obesity is a risk factor for breast cancer).  Similarly, healthy fats have to be used in daily routine like olive oil.

A healthy diet along with some regular exercise makes a person less vulnerable to breast cancer.

5.      Minimum use of alcohol

People must know the after-effects of using too much alcohol and its link with developing breast cancer. If a person wants to drink, then he/she should limit it to one drink per day.

6.      Control on pollution

Government and the public should work together for the elimination of particulate pollution from India. This particulate pollution is a significant risk factor for breast cancer.

All these factors can help in reducing the rate of breast cancer in India. Moreover, such preventive measures also help in resolving this disease in earlier stages. One must keep in mind that early detection is the key to resolve this fatal disease. Only this .strategy helps to increase the survival rate.

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Aniqa Yaqoob

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