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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Breast cancer awareness

October is Breast cancer awareness month!!!
 According to The World Health Organization, breast cancer is the most common cancer found in women worldwide and claims the lives of hundreds of thousands of women each year. Breast Cancer is caused by the formation of malignant cells in the breast tissue. It is more common in women than in men. In men, it is usually detected as a hard lump under the nipple and areola. While one in eight women are diagnosed with breast cancer the ratio for men is one in a thousand.
This is an effort to raise awareness and also reduce the stigma associated with breast cancer by educating people on the symptoms and possible treatment.

Signs & symptoms

It is important to self-examine yourself monthly. This way, any changes will be immediately discovered. Whenever an abnormality is discovered, it should be investigated immediately.  The following are symptoms or signs to watch out for:
1.       A change in how the breast or nipple feels- lumps, thickening within the region or underarm area, change in skin texture, enlargement of skin pores of the breast.
2.       A change in the breast or nipple appearance – unexplained changes (swelling or shrinkage) in size or shape of the breast, dimples on the breast, slightly turned or inverted nipple, skin of the breast looks red, scaly or pitts (stays depressed when you press it)
3.       Nipple discharge- clear, milky or bloody must be checked out by the doctor.

Causes of breast cancer
Breast cancer is caused by damage to the cell’s DNA, so it is very difficult to pinpoint one exact cause for breast cancer.
There are however certain risk factors which make it more likely for one to develop cancer. Risk factors refer to anything that increases a person’s chance of getting a disease such as – family history and genetics, habits (drinking alcohol), age and lifestyle risk, hormonal factors.
Breast Cancer Myths
1.       Lump = cancer
  • This Is not true. Only a small percentage of lumps are actually breast cancer. Never ignore any lump found and ensure you get ti checked by the doctor. 
Only women have breast cancer
  • Men actually have breast cancer too. It is detected by a hard lump and unfortunately men have a higher mortality rate than women because they are less likely to assume that a lump is breast cancer and delay seeking treatment.
3.       If you have a family history of breast cancer, you are likely to develop it too. 
  • This is untrue. Some women who have breast cancer have no family history of it. In fact only about 10% of individuals diagnosed with breast cancer have family history of it.

4.       Breast cancer is contagious. 
  • Breast cancer is not contagious but occurs as a result of damaged cells which begin to spread into other tissues within the breast. It is necessary to practise a healthy lifestyle and be aware of the risk factors.

5.       Antiperspirants and deodorants cause breast cancer. 
  • There is no conclusive evidence linking deodorants or antiperspirants to the development of breast cancer.

How to examine yourself (WOMEN)

  1. Stand straight in front of the mirror, place your hands on your hips

a.       Look through the mirror and identify the shape, size and colour of your breast. They should be evenly shaped without any visible swelling or distortion.
b.      If there is any dimpling, scaling, bulging or puckering, you need to get the attention of your doctor immediately
2         2. Raise your arms and observe the shape and size.
           3. Look out for any fluids coming out of the nipples.
4         4.  Lie down and place your left arm behind your head like a pillow. Using our right hand, feel the left breast with a firm smooth touch. Use your fingers and feel your way round the breast in a slow circular motion. Go over the whole breast from top to bottom, side to side.
          5. Repeat this process with the other breast.
6        6. Stand up and feel the breasts. Go over the entire area carefully in the same process described above. 

How to examine yourself (MEN)
1.       Create a slippery soapy layer over your breast area. This makes it easier for the fingers to glide over the skin without rubbing it.
2.       Place your left arm behind your head and use the first three fingers of your right hand to go over the breast area slowly in a circular motion.
3.       Check your nipple by gently squeezing it between your index and ring finger. Look out for any discharge, puckering or retraction.
4.       Check the second breast by repeating the steps above.
5.       In front of a mirror, examine both breasts and look out for any skin changes – rash, dimples or puckers.

Remember early detection (monthly breast self exams, regular clinical checks, mammograms) of breast cancer increases treatment options and greatly reduces the risk of people dying from Breast cancer.
Encourage everyone you know to get tested today!

For free Cancer Screening in Lagos, please go to Optimal cancer Care Foundation – 118 Bode Thomas Surulere.

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