What Every Woman Needs To Know About Breast Cancer
The incidence of breast cancer is one of the most common cancers among South African women, and numbers are steadily increasing. October is Breast Cancer awareness month, an annual campaign to raise awareness about the impact of breast cancer. Education and early detection in breast cancer patients can make a world of difference. These are the facts every woman needs to know about breast cancer.
Know The Warning Signs of Breast Cancer
Women need to closely examine their breasts for tell-tale signs that something might be up and whether they need to schedule a trip to the doctor. Self-examinations should take place at the same time every month. When you get used to how your normal breasts feel, you will easily pick up on any changes. Some common warning signs are:
- Puckering of the skin of the breast
- A lump in the breast or armpit
- A change in the skin around the nipple or nipple discharge
- Dimpling of the nipple or nipple retraction
- An unusual increase in the size of the breast
- One breast unusually lower than the other
- Nipples at different levels
- An enlargement of the gland
- Pain in any area of the breast.
Who is at risk of Breast Cancer?
Some women are more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer. Therefore, it is important to know if you are a high-risk individual who needs extra precaution. Women over the age of 40 are more likely to be at risk, people who have close relatives that have/had breast cancer. If you have never had a baby or your first pregnancy was over 35 years of age, you could be at risk and postmenopausal women and women who have been on contraceptives for a long time.
Did you know? Drinking alcohol increases levels of estrogen and other hormones associated with breast cancer. Because alcohol damages DNA in cells, compared to women who don’t drink at all, women who have three alcoholic drinks per week have a 15% higher risk of breast cancer.
What can I do to Protect Myself from Breast Cancer?
The most responsible thing women can do, whether they are high risk or not, is to pay conscious attention to any changes in their breasts. Self-examinations using the breast self-examination (BSE) chart combined with regular doctor visits can keep you on top of changes.
Make sure to schedule those regular mammogram screenings! A mammogram is an x-ray examination that allows breast problems to be detected. Extensive research has shown that early detection with annual mammograms can:
- Improve survival rate of 5 years by 100%
- Aid in the early detection of cancers
- Detect cancers less than 2mm in size which respond well to treatment
It is vital to remember that our body's cells are constantly changing as we grow older, and as a result, routine mammograms should be a MUST. Routine screening should begin at age 40 unless there is significant family history.
Breast implants and mammograms
You should still be getting mammograms if you have breast implants. Make sure to tell your doctor you have implants, as they may need further views to see as much of the breast tissue behind the implants as possible.
Did you know?
- 50% of all breast cancers are not detected by the presence of a lump and are only detected by a mammogram.
- 75% of all breast cancer patients had no visible risk factors and were detected by a mammogram.
Spread awareness with The Point this October
Together with Well Women Bone and Breast Care radiology practice, The Point Mall is supporting Breast Cancer Awareness Month by spreading awareness and offering a raffle whereby entrants can FREE parking for a month and all funds raised will go directly to Bergmann Ross & Partners' Bring a Bra Initiative. The 'bring a bra' initiative started a few years ago in breast cancer awareness month.
Join us in purchasing a raffle ticket via SnapScan for R20 to stand a chance of winning FREE PARKING FOR A MONTH.
Simply click here to enter or visit The Point Mall and scan the QR code found on the Ground floor and in the Elevator.
Thank you for supporting women.