BREAST CANCER AWARENESS MONTH
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. And as the public’s favourite district we feel the responsibility to shed light on the sensitive subject, i.e. raise as much awareness as possible about this disease.
The statistics paint a miserable picture to say the least – 1 in 26 South African women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime and this accounts for a mind-blowing 16% of cancer deaths in women. While there is no sure-fire way of preventing breast cancer in its entirety, there are ways of reducing your risk of breast cancer.
Limiting alcohol, not smoking, being physically active, and weight-control are things that aren’t only all-round healthier in general, but has been proven to lower risk of breast cancer. These lifestyle changes are especially worth considering if there is a history of the illness in your family. While we’re on the subject, it might be worth having an in-depth look at the disease throughout your family tree, and that includes both males and females (for every 100 women diagnosed with breast cancer, 1 man is diagnosed with the disease).
Screening won’t prevent breast cancer, but it can lead to early detection. And early detection leads to early treatment. Early treatment not only saves and prolongs life, it can also mean that surgery or mastectomies might not be needed.
The best place to start is at home, by examining your breasts yourself. The most common sign of breast cancer is a pulpable lump in the breast. Other indications may include bloody nipple discharges, and a change in skin appearance. A good rule of thumb is to do this examination on a monthly basis. Two days after the last day of your period is the most important time to screen yourself.
If you do find anything even remotely suspicious of any kind, even in the slightest, immediately contact your doctor for a professional checkup. On top of that, it’s advisable to get a second opinion as well – doctors have been known to dismiss the symptoms based on age. Even though breast cancer is much more common in women over the age of 40, it’s important to note that cancer doesn’t choose based on age.
That said, breast tissue in younger women is much denser than in that of older women. Therefore, we can advise women older than 45 should have an annual mammography while younger women would benefit more from ultrasounds instead. Either way, it’s vital that these are done on the regular for early detection.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
First and foremost, as much awareness needs to be raised on breast cancer, and cancer in general, and this can be done in several ways. A small gesture that carries a big impact is the humble pink ribbon. It’s the international symbol of breast cancer awareness and it’s encouraged to be worn by our patrons throughout the month of October. The Pink Drive has a range of trendy pink-ribbon-inspired wearables available in their online shop.
We also encourage our clients to take part in the events the NPO will be hosting throughout the month. Better yet, if you can, volunteer. Furthermore, donations never go without being appreciated. If you would like to help in any of these regards, visit their website HERE
If you need to have an exam done professionally but don’t know where to go, have a look at The Pink Ribbon Breast Screening Centre, an accredited centre dedicated to breast screening that also offers biopsies, tomosynthesis (3D mammography), ultrasound examinations of breasts as well as bone density examinations.
Lastly, if you found this post useful, we urge you to share it with friends and family far and wide. Not only will you be doing your bit for (even) further awareness, but you might even save a life.