POST TIME: 10 October, 2019 12:52:09 AM
Breaking taboo key to detecting disease
Breast Cancer Awareness Day today

Breaking taboo key to detecting disease

Lack of awareness and social taboo are the major factors contributing to the rising number of breast cancer patients in the country, experts say.   Breast Cancer Awareness Day will be observed across the country on October 10. This year’s theme is: “Breastfeeding reduces risk of breast cancer”.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), some 14,900 new breast cancer patients are detected every year in Bangladesh, while the number of death from this disease is 7,200 annually. “Breast cancer is the second most common type of cancer in Bangladesh. It is the most common carcinoma in women. The number of breast cancer patients is increasing every year here,” said Dr Habibullah Talukder Raskin, head of the cancer epidemiology department and associate professor at the National Institute of Cancer Research and Hospital (NICRH).    

Besides women, breast cancer also occurs in males, event though it is fairly rare, said Raskin. “Aged women have a higher risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer. If detected early, about 90–95 per cent of breast canver patients can live normally,” he added.  

WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)  says there were an estimated 2.1 million new cases of breast cancer in 2018.  At least, 627,000 people die from breast cancer every year around the globe. Among them, more than 5.8 lakh women are from the devel oped world, while the rest are of the developing countries where most women with breast cancer are diagnosed in late stages due to lack of awareness on early detection and barriers to health services, according to the IARC.    

“October is the breast cancer awareness month. Following this, we have initiated a countrywide breast cancer awareness programme. If we could raise awareness among women about early detection of breast cancer, many breast cancer patients can be lead a normal life,” said Raskin.

Talking to The Independent, a breast cancer survivor, Ismat Ara Nazma, said that she became aware of breast cancer in 2009 after watching a television programme. After that, she went to NICRH in the capital to check-up her breasts. 

“When I learned that I am suffering from breast cancer, I started to receive treatment.  Now, by the grace of God, I am doing fine,” she added.

Mahmunda, another breast cancer survivor, said: “When I first noticed lumps around my breasts, I started taking homeopathic medicine. Later, when more of them appeared, I went to for a check-up. If breast cancer can be detected early, the patient has better chances of having a normal life. But she has to take follow-up treatment timely and do all necessary check-ups.”

Rushkin said social taboo often results in a lack of communication about these subjects.  “The unwillingness to visit a doctor to be examined is deadly. This taboo is the reason for many premature deaths from breast cancer,” he added.  

Dr AMM Shariful Alam, senior consultant and head of clinical oncology of Ahsania Mission Cancer and General Hospital, said every woman should check her breasts in a prescribed manner every month. “In case of anything unusual, she should see a doctor right away. Women should eat healthy food and exercise on a regular basis as part of breast cancer preventive measures,” he suggested.  

Oncologists asked for immediate medical examination if any woman finds a lump in the breasts, pain in armpits or breasts that does not seem to be related to the menstrual period, pitting or redness of the skin of the breast, a rash around or on the nipple, a swelling in the armpit, an area of thickened tissue in a breast, any discharge from the nipple sometimes with blood, change in the breast size and peeling, or scaling or flaking of the nipple skin or breast skin.