Low awareness on Breast Cancer hampers management of disease in Kashmir

Late detection detrimental to management; Study
Low awareness on Breast Cancer hampers management of disease in Kashmir
The figures have been on a constant increase, although during the two years of the pandemic, there was a slight decline in cancer detection owing to closing down of OPDs and normal hospital based services across Kashmir. [Representational Image] File/ GK

Srinagar, May 7: Breast Cancer tops the cancers in women in Kashmir in all age groups, yet its management is not optimum due to delayed diagnosis. Recent studies from Kashmir have called for increased awareness and early detection.

In two years over 1000 females with breast cancer have been registered with Population-based Cancer Register operational at SKIMS Soura.

The figures have been on a constant increase, although during the two years of the pandemic, there was a slight decline in cancer detection owing to closing down of OPDs and normal hospital based services across Kashmir.

Breast Cancer is the highest afflicting cancer among women in Kashmir. It also affects males, even though the number is miniscule. However, early detection of this cancer is an issue that experts feel needs to be addressed on priority.

“Breast Cancer patients present late at locally advanced stage in our set-up,” read the conclusive remarks of a recent study : Clinico-pathological profile of breast lesions in Kashmiri population by Dr Peerzada Ahmed, Dr Natasha Thakur and Dr Zubaida Rasool.

The study has called for regular screening programs should be held regularly to educate women about early symptoms and self breast examination.

Another study, Breast Cancer in Young Vs Old Women- A comparative Clinicopathological Analysis, carried out at SKIMS Soura by Dr Nuzhat Jabeen, Dr Besina Yaseen and Dr Natasha Thakur has said that the incidence of breast cancer was higher in elderly patients as compared to younger patients.

However, the age and proportion of patients with breast malignancies was concerning. “Out of the 260 studied patients, 85 were less than 45 years old and 175 were more than 45 years old.

The study found a significant difference in younger and older women diagnosed with malignancy on mammography. “Only 22.4 percent of the younger women were diagnosed with breast cancer on mammography,” the study states. The surgical treatment of choice was conservative surgery in younger patients and mastectomy in older patients.

Dr Sanaullah Kuchay, Head Department of Radiation Oncology at SMHS Hospital said that the awareness had increased in the past one decade but there needed to be more decentralized facilities for diagnosis. “There has to be a district level program, where women can avail screening facilities,” he said.

Dr Kuchay added that awareness about breast cancer needed to go to grass root levels to facilitate early detection and treatment. “For that we need better infrastructure and trained experts in peripheral set-up. SKIMS Soura, GMC Srinagar and even the new medical colleges can play a great role in making cancer detection more timely in Kashmir,” he said.

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