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IDC is most common form of breast cancer, representing 80 per cent of all diagnoses

To commemorate the Breast Cancer Awareness Month of October, Dr Koppiker has also emphasized the importance of early detection of breast cancer as the only key to reducing mortality from this rapid disease.

Written by Anuradha Mascarenhas | Pune |
Updated: October 23, 2021 1:20:51 pm
Breast Cancer Awareness Month, breast cancer, signs and symptoms of breast cancer, breast cancer screening, breast cancer lumps, indian express newsOctober is observed as a breast cancer awareness month across the world(Photo: Getty/Thinkstock)

AN AUDIT of at least 1,000 breast cancer patients in the city with their clinical and follow-up data for the first time shows that 80 per cent are of those with infiltrating ductal carcinoma (IDC), the most common and harmful form of breast cancer.

October is observed as a breast cancer awareness month across the world and with the incidence of breast cancer in the Indian population projected to grow to 1.7 million in 1.25 billion population by 2035, studying the molecular and genetic aspects of the disease specific to the Indian population is crucial.

In Pune, an effort was taken by the Prashanti Cancer Care Mission (PCCM) to set up a breast biobank – the first of its kind in the city – to document clinical information of breast cancer patients to aid in the understanding of the disease.

The number of patients visiting PCCM has been rising since its inception in 2010. The tissue and data biobank was set up in 2018 to build a retrospective cohort of breast cancer patients that have been diagnosed and treated at PCCM.

With this alarming death rate, early diagnosis, novel interventional strategies need to be integrated with the clinical management to combat the disease’s progression, recurrence and death, Dr C B Koppiker, onco-surgeon and founder of PCCM told The Indian Express.

The biobank holds clinical history, diagnostic images, treatment and follow-up information along with tissue specimens of tumour and in a few cases, contralateral normal breast tissue. No personal details are stored to protect patient identity.

The incidence-to-mortality rate in breast cancer cases in India is the highest, making it important to study and understand the disease trends in the Indian context. With this alarming death rate, early diagnosis, novel interventional strategies need to be integrated with the clinical management to combat the disease’s progression, recurrence and death, Dr C B Koppiker, onco-surgeon and founder of PCCM told The Indian Express.

Patients are followed up at the time of their diagnosis followed by yearly follow-ups after treatment.
The biobank has aided translational research at the initiation of the Centre for Translational Research (CTCR); a joint initiative of PCCM with the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Pune (IISER).

“It is a valuable resource to evaluate and understand breast cancer aetiology in an Indian cohort and to the breast cancer research community at large,” said Dr Madhura Kulkarni, senior scientist and DBT-Ramalingaswami fellow with the CTCR.

The audit of data assessed a total of 994 clinical records of which 883 were malignant breast tumours. Of these 799 cases were due to IDC disease.

“This audit has been done for the first time since the establishment of the biobank,” Dr Kulkarni added.
The research team has been working on cost-effective markers to identify Triple-Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC) patients that may benefit from the chemotherapy from the ones who may not. Triple-Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC) is an aggressive subtype of breast cancer with high incidence in younger women, Dr Kulkarni said.

Some of the patients showed great response to chemotherapy with complete remission.
The research to validate the predictive value of infiltrating immune cells (TILs) is underway worldwide. PCCM as well has undertaken research towards understanding the importance of TILs towards the prognosis of TNBC patients in India.

To commemorate the Breast Cancer Awareness Month of October, Dr Koppiker has also emphasized the importance of early detection of breast cancer as the only key to reducing mortality from this rapid disease.

He also broke the common myth that breast cancer can occur only in older age groups.
The percentage of women between 30-40 years of being detected with the disease has more than doubled in the last two decades. In recent times about 50% of women diagnosed with breast cancer each year are below 50 years of age, he said.

“Women should be aware of advanced technologies like Vacuum-Assisted Breast Biopsy (VABB)” which are highly beneficial in the diagnosis of breast cancer disease. It helps sample and diagnose even the smallest of lesions which are often not sampled in regular biopsies. Additionally, VABB is also one of the safest means to remove benign lumps, which commonly occur among women… As October marks Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we urge women to pay attention to their breast health, keep a watch on symptoms that may indicate the need for medical diagnosis and not fear treatment as advanced solutions such as VABB offer much ease in breast cancer diagnosis and treatment,” he added.

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