About 100 breast cancer survivors from Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat and Goaparticipated in the seventh edition of the Indian Breast Cancer Survivors’ Conference held in Goa for the very first time.
The conference had the survivors interacting closely with oncologists. They were updated on the latest advances in treatment and advised how to stay fit, lead healthy lifestyles and keep their spirits up.
The doctors also informed the women about the long-term side effects of their treatment, including surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and tablets.
While Dr Shekhar Salkar, head of oncology department, Manipal Hospitals, and Gokarma Oncology Association president, attributed the large number of breast cancer cases in the state to late marriages and not breast feeding their babies, Dr Mandar Nadkarni, surgical oncologist at Kokilaben Ambani Hospital, Mumbai, highlighted the need for a healthy lifestyle and keeping one’s body mass index (BMI) under check to reduce the risk of cancer.
Salkar said instead of utilizing the two years of childcare leave that women in government services are entitled to, they take only three months to breastfeed their child and keep the rest of their leave for other reasons.
Apart from reproductive factors, one must also focus on diet, exercise and weight, Nadkarni advised.
“Obesity increases risk of breast cancer. Ideally one’s BMI should be less than 23.5. Otherwise, it should at least be less than 25. The moment this rises, the risk of getting cancer rises by two and a half times. If BMI increases more than 31, it increase the risk of breast cancer by two and a half times compared to a woman with BMI less than 23.5,” he said, adding there was also a direct correlation between consumption of alcohol and increase in risk of breast cancer.
The conference was organized by the Gokarma Oncology Association along with Muskan NGO, Goa Cancer Society and Manipal Hospitals.