Cancer is a dreadful word, almost equivalent to death for many. When I mention cancer, what comes to your mind? A debilitated person lying in the bed, head is shaved off, with gloomy faces around him/her, only hoping for some miracle to happen? Your vision is similar to many others around you.
Different types of cancer have claimed millions of lives and they only seem to be increasing day-by-day. However, fortunately, this is not in case with breast cancer; the statistics are rapidly changing. Due to a boom in research and discovery, breast cancer outcome are not what they were 20-years ago. Breast cancer patients have a higher survival rate now, as doctors are more focused on detecting the disease as early as possible. The earlier the detection, the better the chances are for survival.
It is the 2nd most common cancer amongst women. It begins in the breast tissue that is made up of glands for milk production (lobules) and a duct that connects the lobules to the nipple. All women are at risk. Remember that 75% of the women who have been diagnosed with it don’t have any family history of breast cancer. Treatment options manly depend on the stage at which the female is diagnosed.
Now the question is, what we can do if we don’t fall the victim of such calamity?
Here are few guidelines which will help most of us to stay aware.
Awareness is the key to be safe and healthy. Therefore, all females of reproductive age should do the breast self-examination (BSE). The best time to do it is seven to 10 days after the start of your period. Here is a quick guide to how the examination is done. If you require more details, you could always find it online.
Look at your breast from the front, right-side and left-side by placing and pressing your hands on the hips. Then lean forward and swing from side to side. Everybody is well aware of their bodies. Any change in shape, skin, nipple distortion or presence of a lump would definitely catch ones eye.
Feel the breasts by using the pads of the fingers pressing and covering the breast gently and firmly lengthwise and in circles covering the whole breast from the armpit to the breast bone and to the collar bone above. This would give you a clear idea if there is any anomaly.
HOW TO AVOID BREAST CANCER
There are certain factors which we can adopt to avoid the risks of breast cancer.
Adopt a healthy lifestyle. Regular exercise with adequate body weight drops the chances of having this disease.
CUT DOWN EXCESSIVE FAT
Refrain yourself from excessive fat intake as too much fat converts precursors into estrogen, leading to the development of cancer in older women.
Taking oral contraceptive pills to avoid pregnancy and delaying the birth of the first child is also found to be contributing towards the development of breast cancer.
Breast feeding in our society is considered a norm and that’s a good thing. Breast feeding every child not only protects the mother from cancer but also keep the baby away from various gastric upsets.
Early detection and prompt medical attention are the milestones to cure this disease. With the development of new technology, a new targeted therapy with Herceptin brings new hope to the cure.
As October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, let us promise ourselves that we will:
1) Learn and do proper BSE regularly once a month.
2) Urge women older than 40 years of age to have a mammogram once a year.
3) Aim towards spreading awareness about it among our relatives and fellows to knock out the disease.
These simple steps can save someone’s life. Do not hesitate to share them with others.
About the author: Myda Tahir is a medical professional graduated from DMC, who is now doing her Post Graduation from CPSP. She is a passionate writer with a special interest in health, education and creativity.