Hina Khan discovers stage 3 breast cancer: How early should one go for screening? Is genetic testing necessary?

Actress Hina Khan, who revealed she is battling stage three breast cancer, is one of many female actors in the entertainment industry who have opened up about their diagnosis. In fact, their stories reveal why more and more young women are being diagnosed with breast cancer around the world. Does this mean breast screening should be done early? Should genetic testing be done? Or should women look a little more closely at their lifestyle?

The number of breast cancer cases has increased from 1.5 lakh in 2016 to 2 lakh in 2022. “There has been an increase in triple-negative cancers, which account for nearly 40 per cent of cases. These do not have any of the three receptors found in other breast cancers. So doctors have fewer treatment options. This type affects young women and is more aggressive,” says Dr Ramesh Sarin, senior oncologist at Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, Delhi.

Why are younger women more prone to breast cancer?

Younger women who develop breast cancer are likely to have genetic risk factors. They may have inherited mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes, which increase the risk of breast cancer. Such risks are exacerbated by other factors such as lifestyle, poor diet, obesity, lack of exercise, smoking, excessive use of birth control pills or hormone therapy. Endocrine disruptors from chemical pollutants are also being studied. Eleven percent of Indian women between the ages of 35 and 45 develop breast cancer compared to seven percent in the West. Also patients may not show any symptoms in stages 1 and 2. This explains why you may be diagnosed in later stages. This is why regular check-ups, regardless of whether you have symptoms or not, are mandatory. Early detection helps you make a full recovery.

How early should you go for a breast checkup? Is genetic testing mandatory?

Get your first mammogram at age 40 and every year thereafter. If you have a family history of breast and ovarian cancer, where your relatives also had BRCA mutations, then get tested for the genes.

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Why are some types of cancer detected in late stages?

brief introduction of the article
Late detection of breast cancer can occur due to a combination of factors, including lack of screening, dense breast tissue, aggressive stage cancer, misinterpretation of imaging results, patient delay, and health care system delays. .

A fast-growing lump makes detection easy, but a slow-growing lump or other symptoms may be less obvious. Sometimes, cancers are very small and may not be picked up by mammography. In other cases, dense breast tissue can hide them completely. Breast cancer detection is a complex process and late detection can occur despite the best efforts. This is why we should include some additional tests as part of the early screening package at age 40.

Why do we need additional tests besides mammography?

This is because some patients may be the first in their families to have it due to the mutation of genes and normal cells in their body. Only your doctor can suggest additional screening procedures depending on your individual risk factors and medical history. In addition to routine mammography and clinical breast examination, we perform ultrasound, which uses high-frequency sound waves to produce images of breast tissue. It is often used in addition to mammography to provide a more detailed image of the breast. MRI uses a strong magnetic field and radio waves to produce detailed images of breast tissue. This is often recommended for women at high risk of breast cancer or those with dense breast tissue.

There are also different types of mammograms. Digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT) is a 3D mammographic technique that provides a more detailed image of breast tissue. Contrast-enhanced mammography (CEM) uses dye to highlight areas of cancerous breast tissue.

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