October is breast cancer awareness month, which seeks to educate women and girls as much as possible on breast cancer prevention, management and control.
This is due to the fact that breast cancer is the one of the most common types of cancer to affect women of all races and ethnicities in South Africa. According to the 2009 National Cancer Registry, 1 in 33 women in SA have a lifetime risk of breast cancer. This means that precautions in this regard need to be taken seriously as some breast cancer cells can be removed when detected early.
Breast Cancer screenings can be quite expensive. Women are therefore encouraged to do a monthly breast self-examination (BSE) during their ovulation period (day 14 of their menstrual cycle). This is a free examination that can be done at home by oneself or with a partner.
According to CANSA, a cancer support organization, women need to do one of the following breast self-examinations at least once a month.
1. In the mirror
• In front of a mirror, check for any changes in the normal look and feel of your breasts, such as dimpling, size difference or nipple discharge. Inspect four ways: arms at sides; arms overhead; firmly pressing hands on hips and bending forward
2. Lying down
• Lie on your back with a pillow under your right shoulder, and your right hand under your head. With the four fingers of your left hand make small circular motions, follow an up and down pattern over the entire breast area, under the arms and up to the shoulder bone, pressing firmly. Repeat using right hand on left breast
3. While in the bath
• With your right arm raised, check your right breast with a soapy left hand and fingers flat using the method described under step 2.
Repeat on the other side.
Discuss any changes or uncertainties with your medical practitioner. Some (but not all) of the symptoms to look out for include a lump in the breast or armpit sizes vary from a marble to a tennis ball, increase in size of one breast, swelling of glands in armpit, lowering of one breast or nipple and dry skin (eczema) of the nipple.
There are other symptoms which you may experience. It is important for one to query that at their local clinic or with a medical expert.
The BSE information can be accessed on ACTIVATE! Going Beyond health Connection Hive as a PDF document that you can print and share with friends and family.
“It is health that is real wealth, not pieces of gold and silver.”- Mahatma Gandhi.