At BeautySouthAfrica.com we believe that women should check their breasts for lumps every month (two to three days after their period). But officially, October is Breast Health Awareness Month and it is a valuable opportunity to educate women about breast cancer, its treatments and how they can ensure early detection.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women. One in 29 South African women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. In ‘Westernised’ communities the incidence increases to one in eight and if you have a close relative who has had breast cancer, the risk increases to one in six. Early detection is an important factor in winning the battle against breast cancer. ‘Early diagnosis gives the cancer patient a higher chance of complete cure and less extensive surgery,’ says Dr Clive Sperryn, President of the Radiological Society of South Africa (RSSA).
?Breast cancer is a malignant tumour that starts from the cells of the breast. Most breast cancers form in the cells that line the ducts. There are a number of risk factors for breast cancer. Some are lifestyle related (for example, obesity increases your risk of developing breast cancer as fat tissues produces oestrogen which is thought to help fuel certain cancers), but factors such as age (women over 55 have a greater risk than younger women) and sex (in other words, the very fact that you are female raises your risk of developing breast cancer) can also play a role. Other factors include changes in DNA, smoking, excessive alcohol intake and diets high in saturated fat. Certain gene mutations (BRCA1 and BRACA2) increase the risk – but certainly don’t make cancer inevitable.
Symptoms of breast cancer include:
• a new lump or mass in the breast area
• a lump in the underarm area
• swelling and skin irritation of the nipple and breast skin
• a nipple turning inward
• an unexplained discharge
• scaliness or thickening of the nipple or breast skin
‘The radiologist’s aim is to detect breast cancer before any of these signs appear,’ says Dr Sperryn. A mammogram is an X-ray of the breast. Women with a higher risk (such as a family history of breast cancer) should consider annual breast MRI checkups. Breast MRI is now the ‘gold standard’ in breast imaging and is up to three times more accurate than mammography in the diagnosis of early breast cancer. The National Cancer Institute recommends that women aged 40 or older have a mammogram every one to two years.
In support of Breast Health Awareness Month in South Africa, the RSSA is highlighting the benefits of good breast health and promoting breast imaging for detecting breast cancer in its early stages. All participating members of the RSSA are offering a 10% discount on mammograms and breast MRIs during the month of October and first half of November. Terms and conditions apply.
Issued on behalf of: The Radiological Society of South Africa (RSSA).For a list of participating members contact the RSSA on 011 794 4395, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.rssa.co.za