The number of women who develop breast cancer has been increasing over the years and the number of deaths due to this disease has also increased. The financial and mental implications of this disease on the individual and the families can be heartbreaking. All these can be prevented if people are aware of breast cancer as this will reduce the number of cases and subsequently the number of deaths caused by this disease.
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Who does it affect
Both genders can develop breast cancer although it’s commoner in females. You also need to note that breast cancer can affect 1 or both breasts.
How does it develop
Our body has cells that multiply and divide at a normal rate. Cancer occurs when the cells of the breast multiply and divide at an abnormal rate. These cells lose control and behave abnormally thereby leading to breast cancer.
It should also be noted that these cancerous cells can spread outside the affected breast. For example, if only one breast is affected, the abnormally growing cells can lose control and spread through the blood or lymph to the second breast or other parts of the body.
What are the symptoms you will notice in people suspected to have breast cancer
You need to note that if you have the symptoms below, it doesn’t mean you have breast cancer. It means there is something abnormal in your breast that must be urgently investigated. Any deviation from the normal structure in any breast must be investigated to rule out breast cancer. These symptoms include:
- Lump in the breast or armpit
- Abnormal sensation or pain in the breast
- Change in the skin of the breast
- Pulling in of the nipple
- Bloody nipple discharge
What are the risk factors of breast cancer
- Women are at higher risk of developing breast cancer compared to men. Therefore if you are a woman, you need to be more conscious of any deviation from normal in your breast.
- Also, as you grow older, your risk of developing breast cancer increases.
- If you have had breast cancer in 1 breast before, you are at risk of developing breast cancer in another breast
- If any member of your family has had breast cancer before or has breast cancer now, then you are at risk.
- Previous exposure to radiation is also a risk factor
- If you have had any other type of cancer before, then you are at risk of developing breast cancer
- Women who start menstruation before age 12 and enters menopause after age 55 are also at risk
What you should know about breast cancer treatment
You need to know that any abnormal growth or mass in the breast must be removed. Do not be deceived by information from quacks who will tell you that one medicine or herbs will cure breast cancer.
The treatment plan depends on the stage of the cancer. Women who present at the hospital immediately they notice any abnormality in their breast usually have lower stages of the disease while those who present late (especially when this disease has spread to other parts of the body) usually have higher stages. The lower the stage, the better the prognosis.
For some with lower stages, only the part of the affected breast will be removed. In higher stages, the whole breast might be removed. Some will even have chemotherapy (cancer killing drugs) and or radiotherapy (radiation to kill cancer cells) if this disease has spread to other parts of the body.
How can you prevent breast cancer
Breast cancer screening is key to preventing breast cancer. As a woman, you must ensure you carry out self breast examination regularly. This can be done in the bathroom while bathing or in front of a mirror. It helps you to know what is normal. Once you know what is normal, you will be able to identify abnormalities early.
Another form of screening is clinical breast examination. This is carried out by trained health workers. They palpate your breast to identify any abnormality.
Other forms of screening include ultrasound and mammogram. If you have any risk factor of breast cancer, ensure you carry our regular mammogram after the age of 40years as directed by your Physician. Ultrasound is usually done for women under the age of 40years, pregnant and breastfeeding mothers who are to be screened for breast cancer.
Although you may not have control over some risk factors, self breast examination will help detect any abnormality in the breast as early as possible before it spreads to the other breast or even the other parts of the body.
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