Pinktober – Breast Cancer Awareness Month


Cii Radio|Sabera Sheik  Essop|03 October 2016| 01 Muharram 1437

Sporting pink ribbons to observe breast cancer awareness month is a great way to show solidarity for the cause, but the two critical elements to battle this scourge are education and awareness. This fact cannot be overemphasized as early intervention dramatically increases the chances of survival and cure is nearly 99 per cent.

Apart from non-melanoma skin cancer, Breast Cancer is the most common cancer in women of all races, with a lifetime risk of 1 in 29 in South Africa, according to the 2011 National Cancer Registry.

Many breast lumps are harmless, but they should all be checked. It is important for women to do monthly breast self-examinations and to go for regular Clinical Breast Examinations. Symptom-free women from the age of 40, should go for a mammogram (a special x-ray to detect lumps in the breast), every year.

Every year, the net for the high-risk group keeps widening. If the high-risk group for breast cancer are women in the menopausal age above 50, today even women in their early thirties, who are under any hormonal pills for birth control or any treatment and who have a first or second degree relative with cancer, are at risk and require periodic screening.

Women and female cancer Survivors are urged to encourage one another to adopt a balanced lifestyle and to go for regular screenings in order to reduce their cancer risk or the recurrence of cancer & to detect cancer early.

Here are some FAQ’s :
What are the signs and symptoms of breast cancer?
1. Formation of a new lump or mass which is hard, painless and irregular in shape. But it is better to get any lump examined as sometimes tumours can be tender, soft and round too. Any new change in your breast merits a screening.
2. Swelling of all or part of a breast.
3. Skin irritation or dimpling.
4. Breast or areola pain.
5. Nipple retraction (turning inward).
6. Redness, scaliness, or thickening of the nipple or breast skin.
7. Nipple discharge (other than breast milk).
8. Swollen lymph nodes.

What to do when diagnosed with breast cancer?
1. Do not panic. Once diagnosed, treatment for breast cancer can be invasive or non-invasive.
2. Usually, it is invasive so prepare for surgery — removal of breast (mastectomy) or tissue removal such as a lumpectomy or quadrantectomy or partial mastectomy, depending on the stage of your cancer
3. This will be followed by targeted therapy such as chemotherapy, immune therapy, radiotherapy, depending on the stage and type of cancer an individual has. Some may be physical therapies and some therapies may include oral medication

Do you need psychological counselling after surviving breast cancer?
The invasive treatment of breast cancer and the aggressive therapies are likely to leave a woman feeling devastated and shattered. Breast cancer often destroys a woman’s sense of femininity and self-image as there are many changes in physical appearance she has to come to terms with. Such a close brush with mortality leaves her feeling vulnerable and stressed, say doctors. It is important that apart from the dealing with the physical changes, a woman seeks psychological counselling to stay positive and come to terms with her illness. In addition, the woman has to deal with the threat of the disease revisiting her. So, life for a survivor can be challenging.