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Health & Wellness

COVID CONTROL VIA BETTER PUBLIC AWARENESS AND BOLD INSTITUTIONAL RESPONSE

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From the unusual anatomical challenges of Covid-19 swiftly exhausting the common man’s savings, followed by acute depression, and anxiety-ridden days in two spells, people have had enough in the last 15 months. The existing gap in the number of deaths vis a vis rapid reduction in confirmed cases after 55 days, makes it apparent that the role of science appears subdued. Instead, the psychological dimensions are assuming a greater role. After the first anniversary of the Janta Curfew on 22 March 2020, we have a choice of at least eight vaccines (four in India) as compared to none earlier.

These are the fresh developments:

(a) Alpha (B.1.1.7) to Delta (B.1.617.2) variant switch leading to most devastating spike from 99,181 cases on 10 September (fell to 88,198 on 2 April) to a rise to 93,249 on 4 April and again to 4,14,188 cases on 7 May 

(b) Findings of Indian scientists of NCDC and IGIB, that prior infections and one dose vaccination are insufficient against the virus, need to be flagged first. Thus, light on the necessity to have upgraded public awareness, conduct, and behaviour may have to be thrown. It will have to be supported by a robust public health response.

‘FOREIGN’ MUTATIONS AND VARIANTS

From a period of disturbing developments between the first week of 13 April to 14 May, showing creeping up 24-hour cases, positivity, CFR, and active case rates, there was a downward trend but a slow reduction in the number of casualties disturbs. One of the English dailies hinted at 771 Covid variants, whereas another daily had presented a very grim picture of Maharastra and Kerala on one hand and Punjab and Chattisgarh on the other. These were all having cases of Alfa, now renamed to Delta by the WHO, these are cases of Californian, the U.K. type, South African, and the Brazilian variant. In a vast, congested, and casual India, fresh Covid awareness and appropriate conduct are very much necessary. 

Interestingly, one study of AIIMS had indicated that the common cold virus may have saved many Indians. Further, cross-reactive T cells from coronavirus that cause common cold may not protect from Covid but by responding to SARS-CoV-2 protein, they may restrict the severity of the disease. Also, immunity from Indian food habits may have been a contributing factor.

Whatever it may be, longer resistance or distance of about seven feet cannot always be enforced or guaranteed by the executive, each time an announcement is made regarding lockdown or Covid curfew.

BETTER CARE AND CONDUCT A MUST

As opposed to blanket 68 days of lockdown of the first wave, the liberal measures of the second wave lockdown (54 days) and slowly emerging concessions, have not boomeranged exactly but the government can always be ‘taken for granted’.

While the desire for a change or ‘breathing out’ after a long spell may be imagined, if not appreciated, a close look at people’s habits and reactions in the last few weeks even while rushing for vaccinations are not at all encouraging. 

FAITH OR FEAR

Unconvincing and inconclusive debate on this issue has been on since the beginning of Maha Kumbh. Despite meticulous planning, mobilisation of large manpower and sizeable expenditure, not only hundreds of pilgrims died but very aged heads of eight Akharas also expired. Hence, taking a chance itself proved to be a ‘sin’. Further, threats emerged from apparently essential festivities, weddings, death ceremonies, unwanted urge for window shopping, recreating networking, away from home offices and whatnot. 

MEGA SPREADERS

The mega spreaders were three day Holi celebrations and five weeks of the election process in four states and one Union Territory that made a mockery of all Covid protocols. Not only the election-bound states together with the Election Commission of India avoided adopting strict measures, Covid data collection, its analysis and final report to the Centre too suffered. And as yet, a very modest number of cases and casualty figures are being reported from otherwise tension causing and volatile states of Bihar, West Bengal, and Assam.

NORTHEAST SCENE

Though Northeast states of Sikkim, Manipur, Mizoram, and Meghalaya did not undergo elections, they are reporting case-fatality ratio (CFR) and positivity rates higher than the national average for a month, mainly on account of the public non-cooperation.

Incidentally, the above-indicated parameters were within limits during the first wave and the first quarter of 2021. This speaks of a clear compromise on Covid awareness and prescribed protocols.

SOME REMEDIES

According to a study of Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad while there is an immediate need to avoid crowded places and hygiene will have to be ensured and the earlier practice of carrying sanitiser may have to be insisted upon. Taxi and TSR drivers must refix plastic sheets. One should carry minimum cash and valuables while leaving home.

NATIONAL SCENE

We are taking pride in being the world leader in vaccinations(almost 23.11 crore doses so far) but one forgets the loss factor, at a time when some of the countries are yet to begin even the first round. The average 10% loss of vaccines in Andhra Pradesh, Telengana, and Uttar Pradesh is something unpalatable.

60 PLUS DESERVE CARE 

Also, slow coverage of 60 plus category is a matter of extreme concern. Not more than 50 % achievement has been recorded. Thus one can imagine the time to be taken for vaccinating over 20.2 crore people in this group. Not always official callousness may cause misery. Experience of many states has shown that people are in double mind even after registration and taking the first dose. Another threat comes from the listeners/viewers picking up a few shortfalls quickly and circulating the same without realising the consequences. But genuine success stories are mostly ignored.

NEGLECT OF VILLAGERS

Another disturbing development is very little focus on rural areas. Not only precious time is lost but rural folks are also manoeuvred easily by the negative news. Further, carelessness can be fatal in future, irrespective of ongoing summer and freak weather conditions.

Measures like night curfew, 33 % office attendance, restarting metro with 50% occupancy, and partial building activity etc. may not help at the moment. The behaviour pattern of relatively well-off citizens looks incorrigible while the poor continue to suffer. The desire to have fresh air gets multiplied day after day.  While a thorough review of institutional mechanism should be on cards, the Central government will also have to extend the present lockdown and reconsider the decision to delay the second dose of the vaccine.

In the public domain, it is not always an ideal-typical scenario. Life is full of compromises, especially in a happening place like India. For right-thinking individuals, the dictum of self-help being the help may also work. More and more casual behaviour will prove counterproductive. Also expecting everything from the government may not be fair.

The writer is the ex-Chief Secretary, the Government of Sikkim. The views expressed are personal.

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Health & Wellness

10 STEPS TOWARDS MENTAL HEALTH

Seema Rekha

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“Don’t let the storm in your heart overshadow the sunshine of your soul” – C.R. Elliot 

Outshining in the VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) world is not as complex as it sounds. Interestingly sound mental well-being allows one to make favourable choices as the mind functions well when unfogged and at ease. 

To experience a better world, one has to have a fresh new lens to view it from. The choice to give a chance to life with a new perception is the sum of being mindful of self and our responses towards external events. By being a little more cognizant of one’s actions and behaviour and taking a pause and rephrasing the narrative in mind opens a door for solutions.

It’s been widely accepted by mental health experts globally for the last two decades that we may rewrite our success story by regulating our thoughts, choices and preferences.

By practising simple rituals we not just attain sound mental health but become a source of inspiration for others.

Once focus is being shifted to achieve mental fitness, the brain gets trained to pick solutions.

10 simple rituals that can help one to attain mental freedom are:

1. Tracking your routine and feelings- This allows one to check on their own feelings & energy, it also helps to identify our own productive hours and to keep a check on digital well-being (number of hours spent on social media and other digital content consumed) along with paying heed to time investment.

2. Response to the external environment- Once we pay attention to emotions, it helps us to become aware of our actions and behaviour; how we perceive, absorb and react to events around us.

3. Positive outlook- People who have a positive outlook for everything in life demonstrate better mental health in adversity, they remain motivated and take life with ease.

4. Gratitude- Gratitude is a language of the universe. The more grateful we are for our blessings, the more emotionally stable we are. The attitude of gratitude fills us with self-motivation and positivity.

5. Mindfulness- Becoming mindful is about having a system that keeps us aware of our actions and thinking process. We become more informed of small details and make holistic decisions. It provides more clarity, breaks rigid mindsets, and makes people more flexible and open. 

6. Physical wellness- Listening to your body and paying attention to its well-being by investing 20 to 60 minutes every day at the same time and the same place works wonders.

7. Goal setting, time management & prioritising- 15 minutes each day gives clarity, patience and perseverance 

8. Respect & appreciation- Showing respect to people, health, wealth, job, and environment makes us better people. Appreciating others helps in establishing trust and positive relationships.

9. Recycle happiness- Smiling quite often and becoming warm and approachable is indeed spreading happiness. This brings magic to us. It gives an attitude of being non-judgmental and accepting people, situations and environments around.

10. The art of letting go- Letting go of what is not serving a purpose makes life simpler and easier. However, letting go demands continuous self-reflection. But letting go of the past, whether good or bad, offers a different level of mental freedom.

At the end of the day, we need to decide what kind of life we would want to lead—a life full of complaints, frustrations and worry or a life teeming with compliments, achievements and gratitude!

The writer is Managing Director of Antarmanh Consulting, Cognitive Behaviour Therapist, and member of the American Psychologist Association.

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Health & Wellness

CAN PERFORMING REGULAR HEALTH CHECK-UPS HELP FORETELL HEART ATTACK?

Dr Benny Jose

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Health check-ups are pretty common these days. Ever since the pandemic has brought outdoor and recreational activities to a halt, people are getting warier of their health. So naturally, this attracts many people, especially the middle-aged population, to opt for a whole body check-up to assess their health status.

Cardiac health packages usually include ECG, 2D-Echocardiography (Echo) and Treadmill test (TMT), also known as a Stress test. ECG and Echo are done to see the condition of the heart at baseline. While an ECG primarily gives you the status of the heart muscle’s electrical properties and provides some insight into damage to the heart muscle due to a previous heart attack, Echo is done to detect the structural or functional health of the heart muscle. Again, both of these investigations are done to know the baseline status.

On the other hand, a stress test is done to assess the efficiency of the heart’s blood supply after stressing it to its maximum. Every person’s maximum stress limit depends on age, and the test is designed not to cross each person’s limit. If ECG changes occur during a stress test, the test is considered abnormal. This test can also have a small percentage of false positives. Therefore, after considering the patient’s overall risk factor profile, the doctor may suggest performing a coronary angiography to confirm the positive stress test reports.

Finding out significant blockages in the blood vessels is the primary purpose of the stress test. But blockages are of two types. One is the stable cholesterol-rich blockages that develop over the years and gradually lead to symptoms of chest heaviness, breathlessness and reduced stamina. The second is the sudden, complete blockages due to blood clots that can cause heart attacks of varying severity depending on the size of the blocked blood vessel. Stress tests are only helpful in identifying the former as the latter can happen even in patients with normal stress tests. Hence, although the stress test is a crucial tool to identify blockages early, it should be interpreted with caution. This also emphasises the need to maintain healthy lifestyle habits irrespective of your test results.

The writer is a Consultant – Interventional Cardiologist, Jupiter Hospital, Pune.

Cardiac health packages usually include ECG, 2D-Echocardiography (Echo) and Treadmill test (TMT), also known as a Stress test. ECG and Echo are done to see the condition of the heart at baseline. While an ECG primarily gives you the status of the heart muscle’s electrical properties and provides some insight into damage to the heart muscle due to a previous heart attack, Echo is done to detect the structural or functional health of the heart muscle.

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Health & Wellness

SLIPPED DISC: WHAT LEADS TO THE CONDITION AND TREATMENT

A healthcare expert shares risk factors that can lead to slipped disc, symptoms, and treatment options.

Dr Umesh Srikantha

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A slipped disc is a common condition that can be quite painful, gruelling and can cause numbness or weakness in the limbs. It refers to the displacement of disc material beyond the normal boundary of the disk space. When a slipped disc bulges into the spinal canal, it exerts pressure on the spinal nerves and pinches them, causing pain. It is known by different terms such as bulging disc, herniated disc, protruding disc, and ruptured disc. 

It usually affects men between the age group of 20-50 years. However, elders are more prone to develop slipped disc as in that age group, the disc becomes less flexible which could lead to tearing or rupturing with even a minor strain or twist. One can have a slipped disc in any part of the spine, from neck to lower back. The condition develops when the pressure on the spine becomes greater than what it can withstand and what it is subjected to (stress/ strain/ wear and tear).

SOME OF THE RISK FACTORS THAT CAN LEAD TO SLIPPED DISC ARE:

• Poor postural habits – Maintaining improper posture while sitting, standing, walking can predispose to a disc prolapse

• Lack of regular exercise – It can result in poor core muscle strength and can reduce the amount of stress the spine can withstand

• Ageing – Day to day wear and tear can accumulate with ageing and after a certain point may trigger a disc prolapse

• Improper lifting – Improper lifting technique, using back muscle instead of legs, and twisting while lifting might result in disc prolapse

• Weight – Excess weight gain increases pressure on the disc to support additional weight in the lower back

• Strenuous and repetitive activities that strain your back – The majority of jobs are physically demanding requiring continuous and repeated lifting, pulling, bending, or twisting strains your back leads to disc prolapse

• Cigarette smoking – Nicotine used in cigars restricts blood flow to the disc thereby aggravating the degeneration process and delaying healing leading to cracks in the disc

• Sports injury and trauma – can also result in disc prolapse.

SYMPTOMS TO BE

AWARE OF:

Symptoms can range from mild to severe. Common symptoms include:

• Lower Back Pain – It’s the most common initial symptom. It can be continuous or intermittent; mild to moderate or severe. It can be aggravated by activity or sometimes comes on after activity (during rest). It can be associated with muscle spasms and stiffness.

• Leg pain – This is the most specific and defining symptom of lumbar disc prolapse. It indicates nerve root involvement, due to which pain travels along with the distribution of the nerve into the leg; most commonly on one side but can be on both sides also.

Once the nerve involvement becomes more severe, the signs of nerve dysfunction can set in. In the initial stages, it can cause numbness or weakness in a part of the leg/foot. If it progresses, it can cause more severe nerve injury—known as “Cauda Equina Syndrome”.

TREATMENT

Treatments range from conservative to surgical depending on the level of discomfort you’re experiencing and how far the disc has slipped out of place.

Conservative treatment – The majority of disc prolapses respond to conservative treatment. This is recommended for moderate pain with no weakness or numbness. Most people can relieve slipped disc pain using an exercise program that stretches and strengthens the back and surrounding muscles along with physiotherapy. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, Analgesic (painkiller), and muscle relaxants are also prescribed. 

WHEN DO YOU NEED THE SURGERY?

Sometimes, the condition resolves on its own with rest, but if the symptoms and pain are severe, one may require surgical intervention. Less than 10% of patients diagnosed with disc prolapse will need surgery. Depending on the severity of the condition surgeries are recommended. Early surgery is recommended if there is weakness in the leg or foot drop and progressive numbness. Emergency surgery must be performed when there is bowel and bladder disturbance. Surgeries are also needed when there is severe debilitating pain preventing daily activity or walking, non-improvement or progression of symptoms despite conservative therapy, and recurrent episodes of pain after partial improvement.

WHAT ARE THE SURGICAL OPTIONS AVAILABLE?

Different techniques are available for the treatment of lumbar disc herniation. 

• Conventional Microdiscectomy (Open surgery)

•Tube-assisted Minimally Invasive Microdiscectomy (Key-hole surgery)

•Full-Endoscopic Transforaminal discectomy

•Full-Endoscopic interlaminar discectomy

BENEFITS OF KEYHOLE OR ENDOSCOPIC SURGERY

The benefits of keyhole surgery are small surgical incisions, lesser tissue or muscle damage, minimal blood loss, minimum hospital stays, and fewer post-surgical complications including infections. This highly advanced form of surgery is effective for elderly as the associated problems are significantly lesser. It is also useful for obese/overweight patients as the healing time is lesser and they can start to walk the next day. 

The writer is a Consultant – Neurosurgery, Head of Spine Services, Aster CMI Hospital, Bengaluru. 

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Health & Wellness

WAYS TO COMBAT BURNOUT, ISOLATION, AND ANXIETY IN A REMOTE WORKPLACE

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Remote working that started as an effective solution to avert the pandemic’s rising cases, has now transformed into an entire workforce transition. Working on a presentation in comfortable clothes within the confines of home, no commute, and increased family time, the joy of remote working is limitless. However, working from home can also have some grave effects on one’s mental wellbeing. While some employees did attune well to the drastically altered business environment, others did find it challenging to prepare for this enormous transformation to their work-life balance. Functioning remotely has been even more stressful for leaders and managers, who had to acclimatise quickly to upholding a remote-working team. It is hard to adjust to novel ways of working, think tactically, and encourage people when you are feeling overwhelmed yourself. Trying to cope with these challenges can increase the risk of burnout, loneliness, and anxiety build-up.

Burnout has been hitting an all-time high with more than two-thirds of employees experiencing remote working burnout symptoms. This incursion has been affecting the overall well-being of the workforce. Burnout cannot be limited to simply being fatigued from your job, instead, prolonged exhaustion is known to cause a host of physical and mental conditions like high blood pressure, obesity, a low immune system, anxiety, depression, and in some cases cognitive decline. Alongside distant work, which socially detaches people, feeling isolated and depressed are additional components that also need to be considered. 

Below mentioned are a few strategies to nip remote-work burnout and the related isolation and anxiety in the bud before it gets too bad:

Never miss out on taking short breaks during working hours: To stay motivated and productive on task, make sure you freshen up your day with timely breaks. Get up from your chair, indulge in healthy snacking, sip onto teas or coffees, stretch when you start to feel cramped, or simply take a walk inside your home. A five-minute break every half an hour will give your mind some rest.

Setting realistic deadlines and sticking to them: Remember, the flexibility of working from home does not imply that you can start slacking off. It is necessary to set deadlines and work in a deliberate way to meet them. If you are unable to do this, it’s clear that you would end up working beyond regular working hours, increasing your possibility of potential burnout. At the same time, it is important to communicate if you feel you are burdened with work and under pressure. 

Communicate with colleagues regularly: Working in a closed home-office set-up, with no co-workers can make people feel lonely, particularly the outgoing ones who thrive on social interactions. However, work from home does not imply you must stop interacting with your colleagues, managers, and bosses. Stay in touch with your teammates through messaging, scheduling video calls, or simply by making a phone call. Discussing work, indulging in casual conversation, or cracking jokes will ease your stress and will help to avoid burnout.

Enjoy family time: For any remote worker it is important to disconnect from work at the end of the day and dedicate time to your loved ones. Live, laugh, love, to witness the wonders it can create for your morale and emotional and holistic well-being.

Dedicate time to mindfulness: It is crucial to dedicate time to mindful practices like meditation, yoga, or even napping. For instance, sitting in a quiet spot with your eyes shut for two minutes can be an exceptional way to relax your mind, evade stress, lower anxiety levels and temporarily turn off from work.

Striking the appropriate balance between work and personal life holds the key to how well you manage to tackle the challenges of burnout while working remotely. 

The writer is Mental & Emotional Wellbeing Coach & Founder – Let Us Talk.

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Health & Wellness

ROBOTICS HEAD & NECK SURGERIES: A VERITABLE GAME-CHANGER

Dr Vishal Rao

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Head and Neck cancers comprise nearly 30% of the overall cancer incidence in India, which is roughly about 10 lac cases per year. In other words, one out of every three cancers pertains to the head and neck region.

In the 70s and 80s, surgery was the main way of approaching every single subsite in head and neck cancers. As we moved closer towards the 21st century, there was a growing aversion for mutilating, cosmetically disfiguring, or functionally debilitating surgeries which triggered a trend in favour of chemoradiation, which delivered results on the back of an evidence-based approach.

A few years back, an incisive study found improved outcomes in key cancer types except the cases of laryngeal cancer. The study concluded that this adverse outcome was the result of indiscriminate use of chemoradiation and the expanded use of the non-surgical organ preservation approach. This prompted an ethical debate centred around the futility of organ preservation which is devoid of organ functionality. Any restoration is rendered deficient if not fruitless if the patient is ruthlessly deprived of functionality. Quality of life is as much about restoring the patients’ capabilities to earn livelihood and social respect as about saving their lives and vital organs.

Consequently, a paradigm shift ensued in favour of surgical organ preservation, which has two key weapons as the armamentarium: Laser and robotics. Both have brought down cancer to a level of daycare service. Laser technology has immensely helped in the treatment of early-stage laryngeal cancers where a patient is admitted in the morning, successfully cured, and discharged in the evening. Oncological clearance is hereby achieved without compromising on organ functionality.

In the case of advanced-stage cancers, robotics has dramatically improved outcomes. Surgeons have small eyes and big hands, while the robot has small hands and big eyes. That is the game-changer that helps the surgeon probe deeper into hitherto inaccessible areas with raccoon-like vision and precision. Technology has made the representation of reality way more interesting than the reality itself. Robots have taken site location, visualisation and human error mitigation to a whole new level. The haptic sensory feedback has made surgery discernibly fulfilling for the surgeon; it does not appear like a remote mechanism. It is an experience as intimate as what ensues through the use of human hands.

A catapulting effect has occurred in the last ten years through the bridging of technological advances with biological advances. Training is integral to this big leap. From medical school to practice, any new therapeutic procedures or breakthrough technologies tend to bring down surgical proficiencies unless they are consciously upped through continual training programs.

Robotics and lasers have an aspect of gamification and sophisticated technology that can be learnt and mastered with significantly shorter learning curves through standardised training programs. There is an acute need for bridging technological advances with biological advances. The game-changing technologies for the next decade include digital diagnostics, IoT and cloud, Ultra-fast scans, wearables, blockchain, digital therapies, Big Data, Nano Health, AI Health, Hackathons, System Learning and Robotics. And they will not work in isolation, but holistically based on purposeful crosstalk between them.

The writer is Regional Director – Head & Neck Surgical Oncology and Robotic Surgery, HCG Cancer Hospital Bengaluru.

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Health & Wellness

BREAKING THE MYTHS AROUND BREAST CANCER

There have been tremendous advancements in the detection, management, and treatment of breast cancer, misinformation and misconceptions are everywhere, so it’s important to break those myths and know the facts.

Sudip Bagchi

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According to the latest statistics from the WHO, 2.3 million women were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2020. Also, it is estimated that breast cancer is impacting over 2 million women each year. October is observed as Breast Cancer Awareness Month to raise awareness about the impact of breast cancer. While the occurrence of breast cancer rates is higher in developed regions of the world, trends reveal an upward trajectory in breast cancer rates in developing and underdeveloped geographies. However, there have been tremendous advancements in the detection, management, and treatment of breast cancer, misinformation and misconceptions are everywhere, so it’s important to break those myths and know the facts. 

MYTH: People with no family history of breast cancer, don’t get it. 

FACT: Family history of cancer may be important while determining the chances of breast cancer, however, breast cancer does occur in people with no family history of cancer.

It is a common belief that breast cancer is an inherited disease. However, it has been observed that only about 5% to 10% of breast cancers are hereditary. A vast majority of people who have breast cancer have no family history which is indicative of the fact that there are various factors as well, that contributes towards the development of breast malignancies. With increasing old, healthy breast cells can develop mutations on their own, finally developing into cancerous cells.

However, if someone in the family has breast cancer, it is an important risk factor that must be taken into account while screening for breast cancer. 

MYTH: Breast cancer affects only older women.

FACT: Younger women too can develop breast cancer, even men.

Although breast cancer is prevalent among women over the age of 50. It can, in fact, occur at any age and occur in men too, although it is extremely rare, it does happen. Males also contain breast tissue and if they experienced any growth or lump-like appearance in their chest area they must consult with a medical expert.

MYTH: Healthy weight, nutritious diet, regular exercise, and limiting alcohol can keep breast cancer at bay.

FACT: Although these behaviours can help lower breast cancer risk, they can’t completely eliminate it.

Factors responsible for breast cancer are outside our control and are nowhere related to a healthy lifestyle or diet. Although evidence exists that a healthy lifestyle encompassing a nutritious diet, regular exercise, and limited alcohol intake can help reduce breast cancer risk, they really don’t guarantee freedom from breast cancer. Sometimes after doing everything right people often succumb to breast cancer.

MYTH: Breast cancer always causes a lump you can feel.

FACT: Breast cancer might not cause a lump, especially when it first develops.

Most people believe that breast cancer always causes a lump or a tumour that can be felt during a breast self-examination. However, breast cancer does not necessarily, always cause a lump or perceivable clustering of tissues when in the initial stages. Sometimes cancer may affect the lymph nodes of the breast and cannot be felt in the form of lumps. 

Also, it must be clearly understood that any lump be it smooth or hard, movable or fixed, that can be felt through the skin needs to be checked out by a healthcare professional. Most of the lumps are benign (not cancerous), however, there is always a possibility that breast cancer may strike.

MYTH: Self breast examination is sufficient to find breast cancer early.

FACT: Although self breast examination is an important way to monitor changes in the breast, Mammography is the best early-detection tool that is available currently.

Breast self-examination is good practice to monitor changes in the breast, however, for women above the age of 40, it is highly recommended to get annual mammography screening done so as to detect cancer early when it is still within the duct which is called DCIS (Ductal Carcinoma In Situ). 

Usually on mammograms DCIS if detected it looks like a small cluster of calcifications with irregular shapes and sizes. Digital mammography systems enable the identification of micro-calcifications with high-quality images and hence improve the chances of early detection of breast cancer. But it’s important to pay attention to any changes in breasts by performing monthly breast self-exams and have a physical examination of your breasts by a health professional every year.

MYTH: Breast cancer cannot be treated.

FACT: Metastatic breast cancer can’t be cured, but it can be treated.

How the body performs with metastatic cancer relies on various factors including age, health, other conditions, and access to medical care. But about one-third of the people with this diagnosis have lived with it for a considerable duration of time. Various methods like radiation, chemotherapy, surgery, etc. are recommended based on the severity of cancer. 

The writer is President – Imaging and CLSS, Trivitron Healthcare.

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