Cancer is an abnormal growth and proliferation of cell. Breast cancer is now the most common cancer in most cities in India and 2nd most common in rural India. The incidence of breast cancer is increasing in younger women. Because of lack of awareness and lack of screening it goes unnoticed till it becomes symptomatic. To create awareness about breast cancer is very essential.
Breast cancer is caused by lots of different factors many of them are beyond our control. Broadly speaking the risk factors can be divided into modifiable and non- modifiable.
Breast cancer preventive strategies:
- Keep your weight in check
- Be physically active- 30 to 60 minutes of moderate intensity exercises which should be combination of strength, stamina and flexibility. 3-5 days/week
- Eat fruits and vegetables- Avoid too much alcohol
- Don’t smoke
- Breastfeed for 1 year after child birth if possible
- Avoid birth control pills especially after the age of 35 years
- Avoid post- menopausal hormones
- Know about family history
- Don’t forget screening.
Please seek a medical help if you have:
- A lump or thickening in the breast
- Redness, or soreness of skin
- Swelling and dimpling of skin
- Change in shape or appearance of the nipple-
- Nipple discharge
There are different types of treatment options for breast cancer survivals such as breast conservation surgeries, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, hormonal therapy and rehabilitation.
Physiotherapy plays an important role in rehabilitation of breast cancer survivals
Most of the women suffering from breast cancers has to go for complete breast removal or breast conservation surgeries and obviously post-surgery they have to undergo chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
As major portion of breast tissues, lymph nodes, nerves and muscles around the breast, shoulder and neck region are cut or spared depending upon the extent of cancer pain and swelling in the region of neck, shoulder and chest wall is very common. Also weakness of muscles around the shoulder region leads to stiffness and inability to do overhead activities. Postural impairments and Chemotherapy and radiotherapy related fatigue is also very common. Combination of these factors along with psychological trauma and stress leads to poor quality of life and lack of feeling of well-being.
It is a process to improve the physical and social function of the person suffering from cancer in order to improve quality of life and leading to longer survival.
Post operatively the physiotherapy aims at reduction of swelling by positioning of arm and elevation, gradual activities of wrist and hand, gradual mobilisation of shoulder and neck to prevent stiffness and to improve function. Gradual strengthening of muscles around shoulder and neck. Improving stamina through gradual planned exercise program.
Lymphadenopathy edema is the common complication after breast cancer surgeries. It can be prevented by following measures:
- Manual lymphatic drainage (form of a light massage in particular direction to drain the lymphatic fluid in proper channels)
- Multilayer elastic compression bandage or pneumatic compression
- Skin care- keep skin clean, hydrated. Use of gloves during household work.
- Regular exercise
- Weight control
Psychological support from families, friends and health care professionals is very essential to the women suffering from breast cancers.
Giving up is not an option, Believe there is a hope for a cure!!
- Dr. Aditi Kate