Cancer to me is one of the scariest words in the English dictionary and rightly so, I believe. But, I also believe that one of the myriad ways of tackling fear is to equip yourself with the right knowledge and educate yourself about misinformation and myths that should be busted. So, when I got the opportunity to interview Dr. Mandar Nadkarni for a Girl Tribe Live in the last week of October, I jumped at it.

October, as most people know, is Breast Cancer Awareness Month globally and we knew that we wanted to speak with a professional on the awareness aspect and talk about all the things women in India don’t, but should know about breast cancer. And although Dr. Nadkarni spoke at length about the disease and all the aspects of it, even tackling questions from you, our tribe, there were 5 key learnings that I took away from the experience, specifically about catching the early signs of this type of cancer.

1. The Most Common Early Sign Of Breast Cancer Is A Painless Lump

The stress needs to be on the word, ‘painless’ because most of the time women tend to ignore something if it doesn’t hurt. But if a painless breast lump is felt, that’s your sign that you need to go to the doctor, even though there is a 90 percent chance it might not be cancer because, on the off chance that it is, in fact, cancer, you would’ve detected it early and treated it accordingly.

As far as cancer goes, some time ago, the most common type of cancer was of the uterine cervix, but 6 to 8 years ago, the number of breast cancer cases overtook the uterine cervix ones.

3. Women Should Conduct Regular Breast Examinations From Their ’20s

Even though most women don’t get breast cancer at that age, it is important to start the examinations then so that you have a reference point later on of what a healthy breast feels like. And also, you will get better at conducting them, the more practice you have.

4. Breastfeeding Helps Reduce The Risk Of Developing Breast Cancer

Breastfeeding for a period of 6 months to a year is good for the baby’s development but also helps to reduce the risk of breast cancer by a whopping 50 per cent.

5. Breast Cancer Does Not Mean Disfigurement

If cancer is detected early, the chances of you having to need a mastectomy are really low. Also, with advancements in technology and treatment, 80 percent of the cases treated for early stages of breast cancer are treated with breast conservation surgeries where they take out the mass without removing the breast entirely. Also, there are many cases in the early stages that can skip chemotherapy completely.

Dr. Nadkarni really opened my eyes to things that I think every woman in India should be made aware of and I hope that you all, men and women alike read this article as well as watch the Facebook Live on Malini’s Girl Tribe and let us know what other subjects you’d like to know about.

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