New Delhi: To create awareness around breast cancer during Breast Cancer Month which is observed in October annually, Max Institute of Cancer Care, Lajpat Nagar organised a press conference where long-term survivors spoke about their journeys. Senior clinicians also discussed various advancements in cancer treatment from the late 1970s to the present ranging from medical to surgical oncology.
The theme for this year is ‘Living Beyond Breast Cancer’. Talking on the occasion, Dr PK Julka, Principal Director, Medical Oncology, Max Institute of Cancer Care, Lajpat Nagar said, “Treatment for breast cancer patients has seen paradigm shift from the initial times. In the late 70s, the entire infected breast was surgically removed. With advancements in cancer treatment, both surgical and medication was used for breast cancer patients. Medications at that time used to arrive from countries abroad to now when majority of drugs are being produced in India. This has significantly reduced the waiting time as well as cost of treatment. Owing to availability of better diagnostics pushed by greater awareness, we have started seeing breast cancer patients in early stages. These advances have significantly improved the chances of survivors.
Adding to this, Dr Harit Chaturvedi, Chairman, Max Institute of Cancer Care said, “Early diagnosis of any disease, especially cancer, is the key to better treatment and faster recovery in patients. It also leaves doctors with a greater scope to treat the patient to become nearly completely disease-free. We are hopeful that in the near future, very small lesions may not require any surgical intervention. This will mean lesser disfiguration and minimum requirement for any cosmetic/plastic surgeries as well.”
Talking about her journey of 27 years since she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1995, 66-year-old, Sucheta Sachdev said, “I remember that I had excruciating pain in my right breast back in the days which had become unbearable. I think I had ignored it for a while and by the time I reached the doctor, the diagnosis came as a shock for both me and my family. In those years, cancer meant definite death. Being a working mother, I hardly had time to pay attention towards myself and now this entire procedure of months of treatment that included chemotherapy which meant hair fall, surgery that meant disfiguration and radiation which meant more side effects. My family was my greatest support and I realised that for me the only option was to fight the disease head-on. It took a painful six months and several rounds of chemotherapy before I scanned ‘disease-free’. I have been on regular follow-ups with Dr Julka and was medication for almost a decade. I am happy that I have been able to emotionally support patients of breast cancer over these last two decades through my journey.”
Another patient Kanta More shared her experience in the fight against breast cancer. More was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2017. 67-year-old More noticed a small lump in her right breast and after detailed investigations and she was diagnosed with triple-negative carcinoma in the right breast. She underwent surgery in the same year followed by chemotherapy. More is under regular follow-up with Dr Julka.
Dr Devavrat Arya, Director, Medical Oncology, MICC, Lajpat Nagar, said, “Due to advancements in cancer treatment, patient’s quality of life has significantly improved. Hair loss post-chemotherapy has one of biggest sore points in a patient’s journey towards recovery. But, with technologies such as Cool Cap, we will be able to significantly reduce loss of hair.”