Alarming Statistics: Majority of Indian Women Diagnosed with Advanced Stage Breast Cancer

NEW DELHI: Shockingly, only a mere 30% of women in India receive a diagnosis of breast cancer when the disease is still contained within the breast. For the majority of women, comprising 59%, the diagnosis occurs after the cancer has spread outside the breast and has invaded nearby structures or lymph nodes. A troubling 11% of women end up with a diagnosis when the cancer has already metastasized to distant body parts like the lungs, liver, or bones.
These distressing statistics have been unveiled in a recent study published in JAMA Oncology, presenting a comprehensive analysis of breast cancer diagnosis stages in 81 countries across the globe. The International Agency for Research on Cancer led this international collaborative study to investigate the stage of diagnosis for over 2 million women diagnosed with breast cancer in the past 30 years. Data from 28 population-based cancer registries in India was included in the analysis, coordinated by the ICMR-NCDIR, Bengaluru.
According to Dr. Prashant Mathur, the director of ICMR-NCDIR, advanced stages of breast cancer were more prevalent in older women in comparison to middle-aged and younger women. Shockingly, in sub-Saharan African countries, up to 30% of women were diagnosed with late-stage distant metastatic tumors.
Dr. Abhishek Shankar, an assistant professor of radiation oncology at AIIMS, emphasized the importance of early detection and timely diagnosis. He explained that the five-year survival rate for women diagnosed with breast cancer confined to the breast is almost 100%, but it significantly reduces to 80-85% and 25-30% for regional and distant metastatic diseases, respectively.
Raising awareness about the spread of breast cancer, Dr. Harshad Joshi, a senior gastroenterologist at Nanavati Max Hospital, recounted the case of a 58-year-old woman who initially dismissed a lump in her breast, only to find that it had progressed into stage 4 breast cancer spreading to her liver. This tragic situation could have been avoidable with early diagnosis and treatment.


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