Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Ladies, You can reduce your risk of Breast Cancer through this!

You can reduce your risk of breast cancer 
October has been designated as the Pink Month in a global effort to draw attention to issues relating to breast cancer. The ultimate goal is to educate everyone about the disease and, consequently, reduce to the barest minimum the incident of breast cancer.
Oncologists say breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide, representing 16 per cent of all female cancers. Again, scientific studies have found that women have a 12 per cent lifetime risk of developing breast cancer, though individual risks may be higher or lower than that. “Individual risk is affected by many different factors, such as family history, reproductive history, lifestyle, environment, and others,” researchers say.
For instance, in terms of unhealthy lifestyle, research has shown that taking two alcoholic drinks a day could increase breast cancer risk by 21 percent. However, most people who develop breast cancer may be teetotalers.
The World Health Organisation Global Burden of Disease estimates that 519,000 women died in 2004 alone due to breast cancer, with the majority (69 per cent) of all breast cancer deaths occurring in developing countries such as Nigeria.
Why cancer kills
Ordinarily, experts say, being diagnosed with breast cancer does not necessarily mean that you’ve been handed a death sentence. But that only means your symptoms are diagnosed at the earliest stage and tackled headlong.
Experts say though the developed world has achieved great strides in reducing the incident of breast cancer and the associated death rates, less developed countries such ours have continued to record low survival rates — a situation that can be attributed mainly to the lack of early detection programmes.
According to the Head of Oncology Unit, Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba, Lagos, Prof. Remi Ajekigbe, Nigeria records high death rate from breast cancer mainly because a high proportion of women present with late-stage disease.
Until recently, most tertiary centres in Nigeria lack adequate diagnosis and treatment facilities, a situation that also contributed hugely to the mortality rate among women with the disease.
The online portal, breastcancer.org, notes that, initially, breast cancer may not cause any symptoms. It states that you may not even feel or notice a small lump; or, where it is present, the lump may be too small to cause any unusual changes that you can notice on your own.
Usually, physicians say, it’s only when you do a mammogram (X-ray of the breast) that the machine picks an abnormal area, following which the doctor will recommend further testing.
The American Cancer Society proffers that in some cases, the first sign of breast cancer is a new lump or mass in the breast that you or your doctor can feel.
“A lump that is painless, hard, and has uneven edges is more likely to be cancer,” Ajekigbe warns. He adds, “But sometimes, cancers can be tender, soft, and rounded. So it’s important to have anything unusual checked by your doctor.”
The oncologist advises all women to have a clinical breast exam at least every three years; and annual exams and mammograms starting at age 40. “Women with a family history of breast cancer should begin screening 10 years prior to the family member’s age of diagnosis,” Ajekigbe adds.
The American Cancer Society says any of the following unusual changes in the breast can be a symptom of breast cancer:
•         Swelling of all or part of the breast
•         Skin irritation or dimpling
•         Breast pain
•         Nipple pain or the nipple turning inward
•         Redness, scaliness, or thickening of the nipple or                        breast skin
•         A nipple discharge other than breast milk
•         A lump in the underarm area
Of course, physicians say, these changes can also be signs of less serious conditions that are not cancerous, such as an infection or a cyst. But, in order to be sure, it’s important to get any breast changes checked out promptly by a doctor, experts advise.
Improving survival rate
At the launch of a new set of cancer diagnosing machines — Ventana Benchmark GX — donated by Roche Pharma, Nigeria, to LUTH last week, the Country Manager, Mr. Charles Forjour, says using the Benchmark GX will help physicians to differentiate the type of breast cancer an individual has, as well as enabling oncologists to determine the best medication a particular patient will benefit from.
The Head of Department of Pathology Unit of LUTH, Prof. Abdulkareem Fatimah, said, “With this machine, you eliminate trial and error, as well as the long period of waiting for manual test. “As for the patients, it saves them the stress of paying for ticket, hotel bills, visa fees and the high cost of seeing a foreign oncologist or oncology surgeon.”
The hospital’s Medical Director, Prof. Akin Osibogun, noted that when the machine becomes operational, breast cancer diagnosis and treatment will be based on clinical evidence, which will ultimately lead to increased survival among patients.
“It will improve the quality of test and immunohistochemistry report by the pathologist; and at the same time, enhance local research in cancers, which will ultimately help in gathering local data for clinical and policy decisions,” Osibogun said.
Culled from Punchng
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