What do you know about breast cancer?
October 16, 2020

What do you know about breast cancer?

by: Dr Kandé France

Have you heard about breast cancer?

It is one of the leading causes of cancer-related deaths among women. Did you know that breast cancer is not limited to women only? Though rare, men can also be affected. Why is this important you may ask? Early detection is key for a favorable outcome. Additionally, due to a general lack of awareness men with breast cancer tend to be diagnosed at an advanced stage in comparison to women.

Who is at risk?

Persons who have a previous history or family history of breast cancer, early menstruation and/or late menopause, late age of first pregnancy or women who have never been pregnant are at risk. Other factors such as obesity, diet, use of hormone therapy (contraceptive pills or hormone replacement therapy), alcohol use and smoking may play a role.

Breast cancer may present as a painless, firm, irregular lump in the breast or near the armpit which can be felt during self-breast examination or breast examination done by a doctor. Not all breast lumps are cancerous but if discovered it should be further investigated. Changes in the size or shape of the breast, changes in the skin such as dimpling or redness to the breast, along with nipple inversion or bloody nipple discharge can be tell tale signs of a cancerous process. Notably, most breast cancers are asymptomatic in the early stages and routine mammogram may detect changes in the breast even before a lump can be felt.

What about that mammogram?

As a general rule, a mammogram should be done yearly for women over 40 years but should be started earlier for those who are high risk for developing breast cancer. Notwithstanding, both men and women should practice regular breast self-examination at the same time each month coupled with clinical breast examination. If a breast lump is detected, you may need to proceed to getting a biopsy done to confirm if it is cancerous. Treatment, if needed, could be a combination of surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy or hormone therapy.

What do you know about breast cancer?

You know both men and women are affected by breast cancer. You know how it manifests and how it is diagnosed. You know it is important to do regular self-breast and clinical examinations coupled with annual mammogram. You know prevention is better than cure. Knowledge is power. Be aware. Tell a friend. Act now! Save a life! Take control! Fight against breast cancer!