Women beware! Breast cancer overtakes lung as most common cancer, says WHO, know symptoms

Lung cancer was the most common type for the last two decades, but is now in second place, ahead of colorectal cancer, which is in third place.

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A new ray of hope for breast cancer patients (Image Source: ANI)

Breast cancer has overtaken lung cancer as the most common form of the disease, the World Health Organisation said on Tuesday (February 2). "For the first time, breast cancer now constitutes the most commonly occurring cancer globally," Andre Ilbawi, a cancer specialist at the WHO, told a U.N. briefing ahead of World Cancer Day on Thursday (February 4).

Lung cancer was the most common type for the last two decades, but is now in second place, ahead of colorectal cancer, which is the third most widespread, Ilbawi said. Ilbawi noted that obesity in women was a common risk factor in breast cancer, and is also driving overall cancer numbers.

As the global population grows and life expectancy increases, cancer is expected to become more common, rising to about 30 million new cases per year in 2040 from 19.3 million in 2020, Ilbawi said.

The coronavirus pandemic is disrupting cancer treatment in about half the countries it surveyed, Ilbawi said, pointing to delays in diagnosis, healthcare workers being under extreme stress and research being impacted.

What is breast cancer?

Like all forms of cancer, breast cancer is made of unusual cells that grow out of control. Breast cancer usually begins either in your glands that make milk (called lobular carcinoma), or the ducts that carry it to the nipple (called ductal carcinoma). It can grow larger in your breast and spread to nearby lymph nodes or through your bloodstream to other organs. The cancer may grow and invade tissue around your breast, such as your skin or chest wall.

Different types of breast cancer grow and spread at different rates. Some take years to spread beyond your breast, while others grow and spread quickly.

On average, 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer in their lifetimes. About two-thirds of women with breast cancer are 55 or older. Most of the rest are between 35 and 54.

Fortunately, breast cancer is very treatable if you spot it early. Localized cancer (meaning it hasn’t spread outside your breast) can usually be treated before it spreads.

Once the cancer begins to spread, treatment becomes more complicated. It can often control the disease for years.

Breast Cancer Symptoms

A lump or thickened area in or near your breast or underarm that lasts through your period

A mass or lump, even if it feels as small as a pea

A change in your breast’s size, shape, or curve

Nipple discharge that can be bloody or clear

Changes in the skin of your breast or your nipple. It could be dimpled, puckered, scaly, or inflamed.

Red skin on your breast or nipple

Changes in the shape or position of your nipple

An area that's different from any other area on either breast

A hard, marble-sized spot under your skin

(With Reuters Inputs)

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