Cancer, in simple words, is an uncontrolled growth of cells in any part of the body that can turn fatal. Breast cancer is a disease affecting many Indian women owing to erratic lifestyles and genetics. It starts with a lump in the breast. Often, breast lumps are non-cancerous and harmless and are called benign. However, they can turn malignant or cancerous and need medical supervision. Early detection of these lumps can result in early diagnosis and treatment, saving lives.
Let us have a quick look at the symptoms to check:
- Any kind of unusual pain in the breast or armpit
- Rash(es) around one nipple
- Blood or non-blood discharge from a nipple
- Inverted nipple
- Breast lump or unusual thickening of a tissue in the breast that feels different from the remaining breast
- Unusual change in the shape or size of your breast
- Sudden peeling, flaking or scaling of the skin of the breast or nipple.
Keep a watch on these symptoms, and instantly consult your doctor for better observation and guidance if in doubt. It is not necessary that these symptoms will lead to cancer, but better safe than sorry. At the same time, it is important to be aware of the causes of breast cancer so you can take precautions if any.
Here are some of the reasons:
- Obesity and less of physical activity
- Menstruation or menopause at an early or late stage
- Inheriting mutated genes like BRCA 1 and BRCA 2
- Hormone replacement therapy
- Getting radiation treatment for some other ailment
- Lifestyle changes like alcohol consumption
Getting detected with cancer can be traumatising, but not all is lost. Timely medical intervention can cure the disease and help you resume regular life as well.
For that, let’s have a look at the type of breast cancers:
- Metastatic Breast Cancer: This is where cancer is at stage 4 and has spread to other parts of the body
- Ductal Carcinoma In Situ: Cancer starts in the milk duct and can be easily treatable if detected in the first stage.
- Lobular Carcinoma: This kind starts in one of the small milk glands at the end of the breast called a lobule. They don’t spread to surrounding tissues and is mostly diagnosed before menopause and mostly don’t have any symptoms.
- Inflammatory Breast Cancer: This is an aggressive 3rd stage cancer that infiltrates skin or lymph vessels requiring strong medical treatment like chemotherapy.
Depending on the cancer stage, multiple treatment options are available, and your doctor can advise you about the best one suitable for you. For awareness, keep these in mind:
- Breast Cancer Surgery
- Hormonal Treatment
- Radiation Therapy
- IMRT or Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy
- IGRT or Image Guided Radiation Therapy
The Sooner you get diagnosed and start the treatment, the faster and more are chances of complete recovery. However, breast cancer treatment is quite expensive in India. It ranges from approximately Rs. 2 lakh to around Rs. 20 lakh. This, doesn’t include supporting costs of diet, loss of working hours, caretaker’s energy and stress. Therefore, it is important to get insurance coverage to cover at least the tangible financial cost of treating the disease.
However, keep the following points in mind while selecting a health insurance plan:
- Critical Illness: Breast cancer is not covered under regular health plans but rather under critical illness insurance plans as it’s a critical disease. This helps get a lump sum amount at the time of diagnosis itself. You can also avail of these plans as a rider or add-on cover with a regular health insurance policy.
- Waiting Period: A critical illness cover involves a waiting period of 90 days from the commencement of the policy, while regular health plans have a waiting period of up to 2 years before it covers for breast cancer.
- Survival Period: Under critical illness plans, a woman needs to survive for at least 30 days from the date of diagnosis to claim the coverage amount.
- Preventive Check-up: Avail for plans that offer free preventive check-ups because regular check-ups are needed to diagnose the disease at the onset. Screening for cancer at an early stage can save not only money but also lives!
Remember, breast cancer is growing among women, and insurance coverage is one way of mitigating the costs associated with it. Timely buying of policy can help you go through difficult times and come out victorious.