Rising above and beyond the killer disease as we raise awareness towards breast cancer.
Cancer is a significant global health-care problem, estimated worldwide incidence of ten (10) million new cases per year, 46% of which are in developing countries, thus South Africa. Breast cancer ranking second to the leading, lung cancer and the most frequent cancer among women and the disease represents the leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women.
Breast cancer is a public health concern that’s a year-round issue and raising awareness programs provide the opportunity to educate the community about its prevention, early detection and the impact of hereditary risk.( heredity)
Risk factors include:
- Increasing age in women between thirty-five (35) and fifty (50) years of age and often occurs after sixty-five (65) years of age.
- Higher in those with positive family history of breast cancer-especially those diagnosed with pre-menopausal age thus family history should be known for genetic testing and health-care purpose in screening plan to increase surveillance and reduce risk of surgical implication.
- Lifestyle factors contribute to the risk of breast cancer thus increased alcohol intake. According to the American Cancer Society, women who have two (2) to three (3) drinks a day have about 20% higher risk as compared to women who do not drink alcohol.
- Obesity: over-weight individuals especially after menopause, increases the risk, as having more fat tissue can raise estrogen levels and insulin levels linked to increased risk of breast cancer farly menarche and late menopause are established risk factors and case-control studies have found Those whose first pregnancy delayed to late thirties are at higher risk than multiparous women.
Prior breast biopsy of benign breast diseases can increase the risk of breast cancer.
Socio-economic status increased incidence in higher socio-economic groups, high fat diet and sedentary lifestyle. And increased incidence in women exposed to radiation and use of oral contraceptives for prolonged periods especially before first pregnancy or the age of twenty-five (25).
Lifestyle modification can reduce breast cancer incidence and elimination of risk factors and above all promotion of cancer education. Regular physical activity, reduction of alcohol intake and fatty food and increase fibre intake by means of fresh fruits and vegetables and avoid obesity.
All women need to be aware of how breasts normally look and feel. Any damage, no matter how trivial it may seem, deserves further evaluation by a health care professional. The basic technique for early detection are breast self examination (BSE) by the patient, palpatcon by physician on routine examination. At age forty (40), women of average risk need an annual mammogram which can detect a lump long before it can be palpable, as it is an effective screening tool.
The aim of awareness is to motivate people to seek early diagnosis and early treatment on warning signs of cancer but we can beat it together with government as legislation can control known environmental earcinogens (tobacco and alcohol).
As October month is known to be an international Breast Cancer Awareness Month it is important to continue raising the pink cancer ribbons in support of those living with this killer disease and aim to educate the public working together with the health-care, private and government institution to fulfil a vision of a cancer-free generation.
Akani Ruby Mathebula
Volunteer, Kwetso Foundation