October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a worldwide annual campaign involving thousands of organizations, to highlight the importance of breast awareness, education and research.
We join the world in the campaign against this deadly disease by creating awareness.
According to the World Health Organization, there are about 1.38 million new cases and 458,000 deaths from breast cancer each year and the majority of these deaths (269,000) occur in low- and middle-income countries, where most women with breast cancer are diagnosed in late stages due mainly to lack of awareness on early detection and barriers to health services.
Before we get through what can be done, let’s run through some facts about breast cancer
* It is the most common cancer found in women
* It is staged according to the size of the tumor and whether it has spread to lymph nodes or other parts of the body
* It can be genetic
* The risk for breast cancer increases with age
* Not all breast lumps are cancerous
* An area of thickened tissue in the breast, or a lump in the breast or in an armpit.
* A change in the size or shape of the breast
* Peeling, flaking, or scaling of the skin on the breast or nipple
* A sunken or inverted nipple
* Pain in the armpits or breast that does not change with the monthly cycle
* Redness of the skin of the breast, like the skin of an orange
* A rash around or on one of the nipples
* Discharge from a nipple, possibly containing blood
HOW IS IT DIAGNOSED?
A diagnosis often occurs after a routine screening has been done, usually after a woman approaches her doctor after detecting symptoms.
Imaging tests like a mammogram, ultrasound scan and an MRI to detect, confirm and find out the extent of the spread of the disease.
The following are treatment options for breast cancer although the choice of treatment is usually chosen based on the stage of the cancer, other medical conditions, and individual preference.
2. Hormone therapy
3. Radiation therapy
5. Biological therapy, or targeted drug therapy
WHAT CAN BE DONE?
Check your breasts – this cannot be overemphasized; It only takes a few minutes to do. Early detection remains the best way to beat the disease whether you are waiting for your water to boil, or waiting for your TV advert in between shows to be over, you can get it done – that’s all the time you need!
Regularly checking your breasts means you will notice any unusual changes as early as possible.
*Preventive surgery is an option for women at high risk.