A Rs-75 injection increases the chances of survival for patients of breast cancer, a study conducted by the Tata Memorial Centre, Parel, has found. The cancer research institute carried out the study over a period of 12 years, involving 1,000 patients.
“The survival rate of patients who were given the injection was 8.9 per cent higher than those who were not,” said Rajendra Badwe, the director, who specialises in prevention and management of breast cancer.
The study monitored 1,000 patients of breast cancer who were operated upon between 1998 and 2004. Half of these patients, randomly selected, were given an injection of hydroxy progesterone, a hormone, four days prior to their surgery.
“Previous studies have shown that women operated during the second half of their menstrual cycle, when progesterone levels are high, have a 50 per cent higher chance of survival than those who are operated in the first half when the level of this hormone is low,” Badwe said.
Speaking at the 19th PK Devi Memorial Endowment Oration on Sunday, Badwe emphasised the use of low-cost measures to prevent, detect and innovate treatment for breast cancer, especially at a time when India has seen a 20 per cent annual rise in the number of cases of breast cancer.
Apart from genetic causes, research proves that lifestyle choices go a long way in increasing the risk of breast cancer.
“For every four kg that an individual is overweight, there is a 12 per cent increased risk of breast cancer. Similarly, for every year after the age of 25 that a woman delays pregnancy, the risk of breast cancer increases by 18 per cent. For every additional month that a mother breast feeds her child, her risk reduces by 12-15 per cent,” said Dr Badwe.
Badwe said awareness and self-examination or regular visits to the doctor help in better detection of breast cancer instead of regular mammography. Citing a US study of 1.5 lakh patients, where half of them realised they had cancer through physical examination while the rest realised through mammography, he said: “Death rate in both groups was reduced by 25 per cent, which goes to show that expensive tests like mammography provided no additional benefits,” he said. “Physical examination is a low-cost intervention method.”