Like COVID-19, there are multiple life-threatening diseases which if detected late can be debilitating. One of these diseases is breast cancer. Globally, more than 1.38 million new cases of breast cancer are reported and nearly 458,000 patients succumb to it every year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO)1.
As October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it provides a good opportunity to talk about the disease and raise awareness especially at a time like this when most of us are isolated and are feeling less connected to our support systems.
Do not let COVID-19 become an impediment to breast health
The COVID-19 pandemic has discouraged many from undergoing regular screening, treatment, counseling and follow-ups, which are critical steps to fight breast cancer.
Cancer specialists across the globe are fearing a deluge of patients with advanced cancer as a fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is important to understand that cancer is deadlier than COVID-19, therefore, the pandemic should not be a deterrent to seeking treatment on time and adhering to therapy.
Barriers to early screening and optimal treatment
Cancer experts recommend that women should go for regular breast screening after the age of forty. This is because early detection and timely treatment play a huge role in preventing deaths from this deadly cancer. Treatment is easier and less invasive in newly diagnosed cancers, ensuring a better quality of life for the patient.
A study published in the journal Cancer of the American Cancer Society reported that between 384,000 and 614,500 deaths related to breast cancer could be prevented by screening through mammography and applying improved treatment options2.
Talking about breast health should not be a taboo
As women, we gain so much from sharing our worries and problems with friends, often over a cup of tea or a meal. Having these conversations is often incredibly challenging, especially in India, because of cultural taboos. Women in India are less likely to talk openly about their breast health. However, if we want to win over this cancer we will need to speak up.
The need of the hour is to normalize these conversations at home so that a child grows up in an atmosphere where breast health is taken seriously, and girls are more likely to come forward with a health issue at the earliest.
Breast cancer is a serious problem, please do not associate it with pink retail therapy
Since the last few years, the real purpose of dedicating the month of October to Breast Cancer Health is getting defeated. The intent behind dedicating an entire month was to disseminate awareness about breast cancer, support and honor the patients and survivors, and encourage women to go for screening. Unfortunately, marketing seems to have overtaken awareness creation.
We need to be more aware and sensitive as a community. We can gift a mammogram to ourselves or our loved ones this year. One could also get associated with an NGO and donate to some charity or research organization, which could actually help address the problem.3
At Biocon, we are sensitive and proactive toward breast health
Biocon has been at the forefront of a long-running crusade against breast cancer. The company introduced the world’s most affordable follow-on Trastuzumab (CANMAb®) in 2014, which enhanced access to a more affordable treatment for HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer in India. CANMAb®, which is the No.1 brand of biosimilar Trastuzumab in India, has made a significant difference in the lives of over 20,000 patients.
In its mission to increase awareness and early diagnosis of breast cancer, Biocon engages with its stakeholders through various initiatives targeted at sensitizing them about this deadly disease. Biocon also organises screening camps for the under privileged in rural and semi-urban India.
- IARC Globocan, 2008
- Hendrick RE, Baker JA, and Helvie MA. Breast Cancer Deaths Averted Over 3 Decades. Cancer 2019;0:1-7.