This month is all about cancer awareness, more specifically, breast cancer. Almost all of us would have been touched by this disease in our lifetime, whether it be personally or through a loved one. According to the National Cancer Registry, 1 in 27 women are at risk of being diagnosed in their lifetime, making Breast Cancer the most common form of cancer amongst women in South Africa.
Yes, those statistics are scary, but regular self-examinations, mammograms and making an appointment with your doctor as soon as you spot something suspicious, are key to successful diagnosis and treatment. Leading a healthy, balanced lifestyle will also decrease your cancer risk.
Early detection can lead to effective treatment and a positive prognosis.
Finding breast cancer early and getting state-of-the-art cancer treatment are the most important strategies to prevent deaths from breast cancer. Breast cancer that’s found early, when it’s small and has not spread, is easier to treat successfully.
While not all breast lumps indicate cancer, they should be investigated and brought to the attention of your doctor. Other changes in breasts or the underarm area, such as lumps, texture changes, changes in shape or size of nipples or breasts, tenderness, discharge, rash or swelling, or one breast suddenly being slightly larger than the other should all be cause for concern.
Research has shown that a regular Breast Self-Examination (BSE), plays a vital role in detecting breast cancer. CANSA recommends self-examinations once a month, preferably at the same time of day, following your menstrual cycle. Watch THIS VIDEO if you’d like to find out how to do a self-examination.
Mammograms do not prevent breast cancer, but they can save lives by finding breast cancer as early as possible. Early detection through mammograms has also meant that many more women being treated for breast cancer are able to keep their breasts. When breast cancer is caught early, localised cancers can be removed without resorting to breast removal (mastectomy).
Women aged 40 years or older should opt for an annual mammogram. Women 55 years and older, should have a mammogram every two years – or continue with an annual mammogram. Women, who have other risk factors such as mutated BRCA1 /2 gene, should be referred for an annual mammogram. Visit CANSA.org for more information regarding this.
If you have unfortunately been diagnosed with breast cancer, there are small things you can do to aid in your treatment. Your mindset can make a huge difference in your recovery.
- Be positive - we know it can be hard, but keeping positive thoughts front of mind can give you the determination and drive to fight a good fight.
- Surround yourself with friends and loved ones who make you laugh - Afterall laughter is one of the best medicines.
- Stay active - even small movements are great. Move your fingers, stretch your legs and raise your arms to get your blood flowing.
- Fuel your body with healthy food - Stick to a healthy, balanced diet to ensure your body has the necessary nutrients in this crucial time.
Speak to your doctor or visit CANSA.org if you have any questions.
Disclaimer: The medical information mentioned above does not amount to advice or diagnosis, and if advice or diagnosis is needed, appropriate professional help should be sought.
Statistics courtesy of CANSA.org