Breast Cancer refers to cancer of the breast.It’s the most common cancer among women both in the developed world and the underdeveloped world. In East Africa, this cancer affects about 19.3 women per 100,000 women.. Survival rate in the under-developed countries is below 40% due to lack of early detection programmes, resulting in a high proportion of women presenting in late stage of the disease making prognosis poor.Under developed countries also lack adequate diagnosis and treatment facilities.Breast cancer can also affect men.
signs and symptoms of breast cancer
- First sign is a breast lump, or abnormal mammogram. But most breast lumps ain’t cancer
- change in size, shape or contour of breast
- blood-stained or clear fluid discharge from breast
- change in appearance of breast skin; skin may become scaly, dimpled or puckered or inflammed.
- Redness of skin on breast or nipple.
A number of risk factors can predispose a woman to catching breast cancer and the following are key
- age greater than 50
- genetic mutations: some women inherit some genes that make them vulnerable to developing breast cancer
- early menstrual periods i.e starting periods before the age of 12
- late or no pregnancy: Having your first pregnancy at an age above 30 or never having a full term pregnancy
- starting menopause after age 55: this leads to greater exposure to estrogen hormone
- Not being physically active: women who are not physically active have a higher risk of getting breat cancer.
- Being overweight or obese after menopause: Older women who are overweight or obese have a higher risk of developing breast cancer than those at normal weight.
- taking oral contraceptives(birth control pills): Certain forms of oral contraceptives have been found to raise the risk for breast cancer
- Family history of breast cancer: Risk is higher in a woman who has a first degree relative who had breast cancer e.g sister, mother, daughter
- Previous treatment using radiation therapy: Women who had radiation therapy to the chest or breast before age 30 have a higher risk of developing breast cancer in life.
- Drinking alcohol: Studies show that a woman’s risk for breast cancer increases with the more alcohol she takes.
So as the title suggests, you may be wondering just how you can prevent breast cancer. Here’s how:
- Limit alcohol:Yes, the more alcohol you drink, the greater your risk of developing breast cancer. The general recommendation based on research on the effect of alcohol on breast cancer is to limit yourself to less than 1 drink per day, even as a small amount increases risk.
- Don’t smoke
- Control your weight:Being overweight or obese increases your risk of breast cancer.
- Be physically active: Its recommended to have atleast 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity weekly, plus strength training atleast twice a week.
- Avoid exposure to radiation and environmental pollution: Medical imaging methods such as CT(Computerised Tomography) use high doses of radiation; and should only be taken when absolutely necessary.
- Limit dose and duration of hormonal therapy.
So if you ever get any symptoms that can otherwise be suggestive of breast cancer, please visit your doctor for advice or contact any of our online doctors at aferdoc.com for instant advice. Our doctors are always available for you as quickly as you need them.