About a decade back, the age group of women most vulnerable to breast cancer was 50 and above. But with changing times and a faster lifestyle, younger women are becoming more susceptible to the disease, say doctors.
Amit Bhargav, consultant oncologist at the Max Healthcare hospital in the capital, said that in his career, the age group vulnerable to breast cancer has dropped drastically.
"When I started practicing oncology about 15 years back, women mostly in the age group of 50-55 were most vulnerable to breast cancer. But these days the incidence of the disease has become common amongst women aged between 35-45," Bhargav said.
Saturday was observed as Breast Cancer awareness day and doctors like Bhargav said that they are doing their bit to spread as much awareness on the disease so that early detection was possible and improve chances of recovery.
"Breast cancer is mostly an urban disease. The maximum incidence of the disease is seen in metropolitan cities where life is fast. Most girls work, have late marriages and then have children even later. All these factors work at increasing the chances of breast cancer," Bhargav said.
Harish Chaturvedi, a cancer expert, added: "High pollution level in cities also contribute to higher chances of breast cancer. Smokers and those who consume alcohol are also a high risk group. Junk food is also a threat."
Stress and obesity are other factors that can increase the chances of having breast cancer. While genetics - if a woman below 45 years of age has breast cancer, her daughter's chances for the same rise - puts women in the high risk group, those who have had an early menarchy or have attained menopause are also a vulnerable group.
According to B.Niranjan Naik of Dharamshila hospital, a cancer speciality hospital, almost 75,000 new cases of breast cancer are detected in India every year.
"20-25 per cent of cancer cases in Indian women is that of breast cancer. The main symptoms which one should look out for are a lump in the breast, discharge from the nipples, skin retraction or thickening, ulceration and skin irritation. Early detection is the key to avoid breast cancer. Women in the high risk group must go for breast screening tests when they touch 30," Naik said.
Bhargav added: "Although there is no study done, an estimated 50,000-70,000 women die every year due to breast cancer in India".