“There is absolute zero knowledge about breast-related issues amongst people here and this is not good news,” says Shona Nag, Medical Oncologist. This has prompted Jehangir Hospital along with Nag and Anupama Mane, Consultant Breast Surgeon and Head of Department (Breast Services) to establish Pune’s first Breast Care Centre. The Centre was inaugurated on April 23, 2016 with state-of-the-art machines and services including digital mammography, high resolution sonography with elastography, multidisciplinary management and specialised care for breast surgery. Breast surgery is sometimes used for cosmetic reasons, especially if you are recovering from Cancer. Some women find that getting Breast Surgery in NYC could reclaim their confidence after getting a mastectomy. A striking feature of the Breast Care Centre apart from it being one of its kind is that it’s made up of an all women team, right from the doctors to the support staff. Cancer is an awful disease that takes lives every year; however, with the new advancements in medicine, cancers such as breast cancer are becoming treatable. For now, some of these treatments sadly result in the removal of the affected area such as the breast. Some women search for a breast surgeon who may be able to help them with corrective surgery.
Situated in the Wellness Centre of the hospital, it caters to patients of the hospital as well as those who come in just for a check-up. The reason it has been kept open and accessible to people from all strata of society is because of the foundation on which it has been set up. “We want to create awareness amongst every woman, about how vital it is to pay attention to your breasts. Early detection of cancer is essential for a complete cure. Therefore, we have made sure our prices are at a subsidised rate, so that everyone can avail of them,” elaborates Mane. Taking us on a tour of the centre, Mane talks about how earlier women would approach gynaecologists for breast related issues, but in recent years there has been an emergence of breast specialists. On reaching a room on the far end, she reveals that the machine inside is the only one in Pune, equipped with highly effective technology. She goes on to tell us the difference between a digital mammography and the traditional techniques: “Digital mammography technique is highly sensitive and it can be used for picking up the small lumps of breast cancer. These results are up to 95 percent accurate compared to 70 per cent accuracy in traditional techniques. Also, the results are immediate which in turn helps in better diagnosis, with the traditional techniques it takes up to four to five days.”
The insistence and need for bringing in the latest technology, despite being extremely costly stems from the rising concerns about breast related issues. As mentioned by Nag, lack of knowledge is the deep rooted problem but Mane goes on to explain further. “Approximately five women per month get detected with breast cancer here. Also, there is a stigma attached to breast related issues which we need to break and even myths that can be extremely harmful.” Another crucial observation Mane points out about the relevance of such a centre is “with the growing number of nuclear families, there is no elderly figure to guide the woman about breast feeding. This can lead to a number of complications. Therefore, at our Lactation clinic we ensure that women are taught how to breast feed to avoid milk stagnation and we even focus on women who have fought cancer and will be breast feeding.”
The centre which has been built solely to focus on breast related issues offers a number of services with a dedicated clinic. Some of these are Genetic Clinic, Lactation Clinic, Lymphedema Clinic, Prosthesis Clinic and Mastalgia Clinic. The purpose of all the services required to detect and cure breast related issues being available under one roof is so that the process is speedy and effective. Another essential service provided at the centre is that of counselling. Depression is a common side effect to cancer and to mitigate that, counselling has been a vital part of the mandate here. Faith Penumaka, a cancer survivor says, “Coming to the support group here makes me feel marvellous. When we all cancer survivors talk about our problems, it makes me realise that my burden is less than yours. We are 40 members and we live like a big family.” Rebecca D’Souza, Cancer Psychologist, believes that there are positive as well as negative effects of cancer. “The survivors begin to accept life and start living for themselves but some also go through self-esteem issues due to loss of hair or have the fear of recurrence. By counselling it gets a lot easier, as they talk to me about things that they are uncomfortable asking the doctor,” explains D’Souza.
According to Mane, establishing the Jehangir Breast Care Centre has a number of goals they hope to achieve. “We want to promote awareness about cancer and create community spirit. Also, encourage cancer research in India which is extremely important,” she emphasises.
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