What is breast cancer?
It is a cancer that starts from cells of the breast. It is the most common cancer diagnosed in women. There are numerous types of breast cancer, but cancer that begins in the milk ducts (ductal carcinoma) is the most common type. Men can also develop breast cancer.
It is not clear what causes breast cancer but there are risk factors such as:
Genetic factor or the hereditary susceptibility (family history)
Unhealthy diet that is high in fat, salt, and sugar
Woman’s age (above 30 years old) during first pregnancy or those who never had any children
Smoking and drinking
Its Signs and Symptoms include the following:
Lump, thickening or swelling of the breast
Unusual change in the size or shape of the breast
One breast unusually lower than the other
Puckering/dimpling of the skin of the breast
Retraction of the nipple
A sore in the nipple
The Importance of Breast Self-Examination
Breast Self-Examination (BSE) is important in detecting breast cancer early. It is done once a month, a week after a woman’s monthly period. Through BSE, a woman becomes familiar with the usual appearance and feel of her breasts. This way, she can easily tell any change and consult a doctor immediately.
Before A Mirror
Stand before a mirror with your arms at your side. Inspect your breast for any changes in the size, shape, and contour. Check for swelling, dimpling, or puckering of the skin. Gently squeeze each nipple and check for any discharge.
Put your hands on your hips and press down firmly, elbows out. Repeat the inspection.
Raise your arms over your head and repeat the inspection. Normally, your left breast and right breast will not be exactly the same. It is not very often that a woman’s breasts are totally the same. Through regular inspection, you will know what is normal for you.
In The Shower
Your hands will move easier over wet skin. It is therefore easier for you to examine your breast during a bath or shower.
Use your right hand to examine your left breast, and your left hand for your right breast.
Keep your fingers flat. Move them gently in circular motions over every part of each breast. Check for any lump, hard knot, or thickening.
Lie flat on your back. Place a pillow or folded towel under your left shoulder. Put your left arm under your head.
Press gently but firmly your flattened fingers to breast and move in circular motions.
Check for any lump, hard knot, or thickening.
Breast Clock Examination
This is a methodical way of checking your breast for any lump, hard knot, or thickening.
Imagine your breast as a clock. Start at the outermost part of your breast or the 12 o’clock position. Then move on to the 1 o’clock position and so on around the imaginary clock face until you are back to the 12 o’clock position.
Examine every part of your breast. You will need to make at least 3 circles to complete the examination on one breast.
Move hand over breast in a downward and upward motion. Check for any irregularity.
Squeeze the nipple of each breast between thumb and fore/first finger. Report any discharge to a doctor right away.
For its Treatment
Breast cancers, when detected early and given prompt treatment, have excellent chances of being cured. Mammography and Breast Self- Examination (BSE) are important in the early detection of breast cancer.
Local therapy: surgery and radiation
Systemic therapy: hormone therapy, chemotherapy, and targeted therapy
For its Prevention
Generally, breast cancer cannot be prevented, particularly if a woman has a family history of breast cancer. To minimize contributing risk factors:
Eat a healthy diet consisting of high-fiber foods (cruciferous vegetables, foods rich in vitamins A and C);
Get enough exercise (Be active to maintain body muscle’s flexibility.);
Maintain ideal body weight;
Undergo mammography and BSE.