LIFESTYLE NEWS & VIDEO - October marks Breast Cancer Awareness month, an opportunity to place focus on women reducing their cancer risk and to raise awareness.
This month also serves to show support for people affected by the disease.
According to studies, early detection remains the cornerstone of controlling cancer. This means early and adequate diagnosis can lead to effective treatment, resulting in a good chance to cure breast cancer.
It is therefore imperative for women to empower themselves with the knowledge to lower their cancer and health risks and to be able to recognise warning signs early.
In South Africa, breast cancer is known to be one of the most common cancers among women of all races.
All women are at risk, particularly women with a family history of breast cancer.
However, it is also known that about 90% of patients survive after diagnosis when breast cancer is detected at the early stages.
South Africans are lucky to have an organisation like CANSA (Cancer Association of South Africa) involved in efforts at lowering cancer risks and to provide an integrated service to all people affected by cancer. CANSA continuously supplies the public with information and support. They are committed to offering day-to-day help, including emotional support to patients. In addition, they strive to ensure that cancer survivors and their loved ones don’t have to face cancer alone.
In support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, women are encouraged to go for annual medical check-ups and cancer screening and to familiarise themselves with the early warning signs and symptoms of cancer.
It is also important for women to check their breasts regularly and to visit health care practitioners if changes are noticed. Awareness of risk factors can help women reduce their personal cancer risk.
The following are common breast cancer signs and symptoms:
- a lump or swelling in the breast, upper chest or armpit – you might feel the lump but not see it;
- a change to the skin, such as puckering or dimpling;
- a change in the colour of the breast – the breast may look red or inflamed;
- a change to the nipple, for example, it has become pulled in (inverted);
- rash or crusting around the nipple;
- any unusual liquid (discharge) from either nipple; and
- changes in the size or shape of the breast.
Women must develop the habit of regularly checking their breasts, including the upper chest areas and armpits. It’s simple using the TLC technique (Touch Look Check).
- Touch your breasts: can you feel anything unusual?
- Look for changes: does anything look different?
- Check any changes with your GP.
Always remember, awareness of the symptoms and early detection can result in early diagnosis, resulting in improved treatment outcomes.
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