October is marked as ‘The Breast Cancer Awareness Month’, in many countries across the world. This helps to increase attention and support for the awareness, early detection and treatment as well as soothing, pain-relieving care of this disease.
- There are about 1.38 million new cases and 458 000 deaths from breast cancer each year (IARC Globocan, 2008).
- Breast cancer still remains the most common cancer in women worldwide, both in developed and developing countries. It also remains on the increase in low and middle income countries due to an increase in life expectancy, increased urbanization and the adoption of western lifestyles.
- The majority of deaths (269 000) occur in low- and middle-income countries, where most women with breast cancer are diagnosed in late stages due mainly to lack of awareness on early detection and barriers to health services.
Currently there is not sufficient knowledge on the causes of breast cancer, therefore, early detection of the disease remains the cornerstone of breast cancer control. When breast cancer is detected early, and if adequate diagnosis and treatment are available, there is a good chance that breast cancer can be cured. If detected late, however, curative treatment is often no longer an option. In such cases, palliative care to relief the suffering of patients and their families is needed.
Hence, the establishment of the breast cancer awareness month will help everyone have ample knowledge of the disease.
Click on each myth to know more about it.
- A lump in your breast means you have breast cancer
- Drinking milk or dairy causes breast cancer
- Breast Cancer is contagious
- A family history of breast cancer means you can’t escape it too
- Men can’t have breast cancer
Read more breast cancer myths here.
Click on each one to know more about it.
- Metastatic Breast Cancer
- Ductal Carcinoma in Situ (DCIS)
- Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (IDC)
- Triple Negative Breast Cancer
- Inflammatory Breast Cancer
- Breast Cancer During Pregnancy
- Other Types (less commonly seen)
Prevention and Screening
Screening consists of testing women to identify cancers before any symptoms appear. Various methods have been evaluated as breast cancer screening tools, including mammography, clinical breast exam and breast self-exam.
- Mammography uses low-energy X-rays to identify abnormalities in the breast. It has been shown to reduce breast cancer mortality by approximately 20% in high-resource settings. For women aged 40-49 years or 70-75 years, WHO recommends systematic mammography screening in women aged 40-49 years or 70-75 years only in the context of rigorous research and in well-resourced settings.
- Clinical Breast Exam (CBE): is an examination of both breasts performed by a trained health professional. CBE seems to be a promising approach for low resource settings and could be implemented depending on the evidence from ongoing studies. Source: WHO.
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