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Experts underscored the need for early diagnosis of breast cancer for effective treatment of the disease with increasing number of cases among women. The stigma associated with the breast cancer often delays diagnosis and treatment, thereby jeopardising survival chances of the patients. The patients who end up with mastectomies, the surgical removal of one or both breasts, have their lives shattered, the experts said. "This can be avoided if treatment is started in early stages when breast conservation is offered as the mainstay of treatment these days," said professor Chintamani, the founder president of ASOMA (Asian Society of Mastology). To promote awareness about breast cancer, a three-day international conference was inaugurated today, organised by the Department of Surgical Disciplines, AIIMS, National Cancer Institute-India and Safdurjung Hospital under the auspices of ASOMA. "Breast cancer is a rising epidemic in India. One in every eight women develops breast cancer at some point in their lives. There is no education rendered on the matter of diet and exercise.
I urge the medical society to formulate awareness campaign regarding diet and I will be happy to provide my utmost support," said Union Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi addressing the conference. She also shared the mental trauma that her family underwent when her mother suffered from breast cancer. ASOMA stands committed for the teeming millions in Asia that have been deprived of an optimum management for the disease that has become the most common cancer of mankind and "we are all flag bearers in this mission along with all those whose heart beats for breast cancer," said Chintamani. About 350 delegates comprising of doctors, nurses, physiotherapists and cancer survivors from India and other countries are participating in the event. Studies reveal that at least 89 out 100 breast carcinoma patients survive till five years but the picture is gloomier in India, Prof Chintamani said. The reason behind this is gross lack of awareness among women and the cultural and societal practices where women do not communicate freely with their family members about such problems. "These days there are lot of options available for breast cancer treatment. The main advantage of breast-conserving surgery, also known as lumpectomy, is that it can preserve the appearance and sensation of the breast. It is a less invasive surgery, making the recovery time shorter and easier than mastectomy," he said. Women can screen themselves at home for early signs of breast cancer. Mostly the early symptoms of breast cancer are lumps in the breast, changes in the shape and skin texture of the breast, inflammation or rashes over the breast or unusual discharge from the nipples, said Dr Anurag Srivastava, Head of Department of Surgery, AIIMS. A sharp pain in the breast can also sometimes indicate to a serious problem, he said. Later signs of breast cancer may involve retraction, inward turning of the nipple, enlargement of one breast, dimpling of the breast surface, an existing lump that gets bigger, "orange peel" texture to the skin, vaginal pain, and visible veins on the breast. ASOMA includes all specialists, nurses and associated and dedicated breast care givers in Asia and has membership extending to all the countries.
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