Breast Cancer Awareness Month: B’luru hospitals record highest number of breast cancer registrations
Bengaluru: Breast Cancer Awareness Month is observed in the month of October to create awareness of the deadly disease. Breast cancer in Karnataka’s Bengaluru continues to be a significant public health concern, with a high prevalence among women, say experts.
Dr Niti Raizada, senior Director – Medical Oncology and Hemato Oncology, Fortis Hospitals, Bengaluru explain that breast cancer remains the most prevalent form of cancer in Bengaluru, accounting for 27.9 per cent of all cancers diagnosed in women in 2020, according to GLOBOCAN data.
“Hospitals in Bengaluru record the highest number of breast cancer registrations in the country, with a significant proportion of cases attributed to migrant patients,” she said.
Niti further explains, that GLOBOCAN data shows that the five-year prevalence rate of breast cancer in Bengaluru is 151.4 per 100,000 women, which is slightly higher than the national average of 144.3 per 100,000 women. However, the five-year survival rate for breast cancer in Bengaluru is 75.2 per cent, which is higher than the national average of 70.5 per cent.
Despite the high prevalence of breast cancer in Bengaluru, there is a heartening trend of relatively higher success rates. This is attributed to heightened awareness and proactive healthcare-seeking behaviour among women, which ensures early-stage medical intervention, Niti explains.
Dr Krithika Murugan, Oncosurgeon at HCG Cancer hjospitals, Bengaluru explain that “breast cancer is the most prevalent cancer affecting women worldwide, and Bengaluru is no exception to this alarming trend. In my practice, I commonly observe that the average age of patients falls within the range of 35 to 45 years. It’s important to understand that, like all cancers, breast cancer is fundamentally a genetic disease.
However, it’s essential to clarify the distinction between “genetic” and “hereditary”, she explains.
Gene mutations underlie all forms of cancer and can result from various factors, such as lifestyle choices, exposure to viruses, age, and early menarche, among others. Some genetic mutations can also be hereditary, meaning they run in families. Hereditary breast cancer only accounts for about 4-5 per cent of all cancer cases. Most breast cancer cases are caused by a combination of patient-related and environmental factors, often involving both, Krithika explains.
The variation in susceptibility to breast cancer among individuals may be attributed to their genetic makeup, influenced by many factors. Certain lifestyle choices, including smoking, alcohol consumption, and a sedentary lifestyle, can increase the risk of developing breast cancer, she explains.
Despite the high incidence of breast cancer, there is some good news. Survival rates for breast cancer have been steadily improving in recent years, even for metastatic cases. Contemporary treatment strategies focus on personalisation, emphasising genomics to tailor therapy and reduce the unnecessary use of medications. Tumour biology has become a key consideration, dramatically altering the treatment landscape for breast cancer, Krithika explains.
According to the 2014 Population-Based Cancer Registry (PBCR) data, breast cancer accounted for 27.5 per cent of all cancer cases in women in Bengaluru, and this trend has persisted over the years, explains Dr Sandeep Nayak P, Director – Department of Surgical Oncology and Robotic and Laparoscopic Surgery, Fortis Hospital, Bannerghatta Road, Bengaluru.
He further said recent data reveals some concerning trends: more than 50 per cent of breast cancer cases in Bengaluru occur in women below 50 years of age.
The average age of onset has shifted from the typical 40-70 years to a younger range of 30-50 years. This is notably younger than the age of onset in Western countries, Nayak said.
The incidence of breast cancer in Bengaluru has risen significantly, from 15 cases per lakh population in 1983 to about 40 cases per lakh population per year in 2022. Several factors, including changes in lifestyle, diet, and increased awareness, may have contributed to this increase, he said.
The success in treating breast cancer is attributed to multimodality treatment. This approach involves combining various treatments, including surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, targeted therapy, immunotherapy, and hormonal therapy. These advancements in treatment modalities provide more comprehensive and effective management of the disease, Nayak explains.
Dr Poonam Patil, Consultant – Medical Oncology, Manipal Hospitals Old Airport Road, Bengaluru explained that in the realm of cancer statistics, we find a disturbing narrative. Globally, breast cancer now takes the lead, surpassing even lung cancer in new diagnoses. These numbers are stark: 2.3 million new cases worldwide, reminding us of the immense challenges ahead. In India, the forecast is equally concerning, with an anticipated 2,30,000 new breast cancer cases annually by 2025. This tells a tale of urgency in our nation’s healthcare landscape.
The numbers from Karnataka spotlight breast cancer’s prominence, with a significant 27.9 per cent of cancer cases among females. Survival rates are a sobering reminder of the challenges ahead. We see hope in early detection, which in India, is the mainstay to curbing this disease’s toll, which would be a more cost-effective approach. This reinforces the essential role of early screenings, especially among our women aged 40 and above. We must persist, for these statistics are not just numbers; they are lives, hopes, and battles to be won, Patil said.