October is Breast Cancer Awareness month in America and as such, we have put together important information you should know about breast cancer. The World Health Organization says that one-third of cancers can be prevented. Another third can be effectively cured with early detection which ties to the fact that early detection is key.
A quick data summary on breast cancer
According to the Journal of Cancer and Tumor International JCTI/2018/42635, carcinoma of the breast is the common malignancy in women worldwide and the second most prevalent cancer overall. It accounts for 12% of all new cancer cases as well as a quarter (about 1.67 million) of all female cancers as at 2012. Breast cancer is also ranked the fifth most common cause of fatalities from cancer in women.
Breast cancer in Africa
Despite the threat that cancer poses to public health in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), few countries in this region have detailed data on cancer. According to a study in Nigeria by Jedy-Agba, E. et al, some 100,000 new cases of cancer occur every year, with high case fatality ratio. With approximately 20% of the population of Africa and slightly more than half the population of West Africa, Nigeria contributed 15% to the estimated 681,000 new cases of cancer that occurred in Africa in 2008.
Early detection is Key
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, women between 40 and 44 years should consider starting annual breast cancer screening with mammograms. They also advice that the risks of screening should be considered against the potential benefits. So, if there’s a history of breast cancer in your family, it may be advisable to start screening earlier as the benefit outweighs the risk. You can discuss this at depth with your OB/GYN. Women between 45 and 49 years are advised to get mammograms annually.
How to recognize breast cancer symptoms
According to Know Your Lemons, “while a lump is the most common sign of breast cancer, some symptoms can be seen rather than felt. Either way, a mammogram can detect a lump long before it can be felt. Know yourself and keep your regular mammogram appointments.
How to do a breast cancer self-examination
Think of a self-exam as a casual way to know what is normal for you. Best time to check is at the end of your period when things are most normal. A cancerous lump feels different from a normal lump: it’s often hard and immovable and can be any shape or size (like a lump or a thick mass).”
Here are 4 major ways to lower the risk of developing cancer…
1. Quit smoking
According to research, one in three of all cancers is related to smoking. Cut out the cigarettes and reduce the risk of cancer. Also endeavor to avoid second-hand smoke; it increases the risk of lung cancer and heart disease in non-smokers.
2. Eat foods that fight cancer
Eat plenty of vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Limit foods high in fat, sugar and salt. Avoid processed meat and limit consumption of red meat. Pawpaw, tomatoes, apple and onions have been listed among foods that fight cancer. Do some research and learn more about creating a diet that can help fight cancer cells and make.
3. Stay active
Aim to get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day. Being physically active contributes to a healthy lifestyle which can reduce your risk of developing cancer.
4. Get regular screening
Some types of cancers can be found before they start. For example, colon and cervical cancer can be caught at their earliest and most treatable stages with proper screening. Breast cancer can be detected early on through self-examination. Learn how to do this and check your breasts frequently. If you’re over 40, especially over 45, getting annual mammograms is definitely ten steps in the right direction.
For more information on breast cancer, please visit breastcancer.org.
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Photo credit: As captioned | Cover illustration by Petra Eriksson
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