You can reduce your risk of breast cancer

October has been designated as the Pink
Month in a global effort to draw attention to issues relating to breast
cancer. The ultimate goal is to educate everyone about the disease and,
consequently, reduce to the barest minimum the incident of breast
Oncologists say breast cancer is the

common cancer in women worldwide, representing 16 per cent of all
female cancers. Again, scientific studies have found that women have a
12 per cent lifetime risk of developing breast cancer, though individual
risks may be higher or lower than that. “Individual risk is affected by
many different factors, such as family history, reproductive history,
lifestyle, environment, and others,” researchers say.

For instance, in terms of unhealthy
lifestyle, research has shown that taking two alcoholic drinks a day
could increase breast cancer risk by 21 percent. However, most people
who develop breast cancer may be teetotalers.
The World Health Organisation Global
Burden of Disease estimates that 519,000 women died in 2004 alone due to
breast cancer, with the majority (69 per cent) of all breast cancer
deaths occurring in developing countries such as Nigeria.
Why cancer kills
Ordinarily, experts say, being diagnosed
with breast cancer does not necessarily mean that you’ve been handed a
death sentence. But that only means your symptoms are diagnosed at the
earliest stage and tackled headlong.
Experts say though the developed world
has achieved great strides in reducing the incident of breast cancer and
the associated death rates, less developed countries such ours have
continued to record low survival rates — a situation that can be
attributed mainly to the lack of early detection programmes.
According to the Head of Oncology Unit,
Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba, Lagos, Prof. Remi
Ajekigbe, Nigeria records high death rate from breast cancer mainly
because a high proportion of women present with late-stage disease.
Until recently, most tertiary centres in
Nigeria lack adequate diagnosis and treatment facilities, a situation
that also contributed hugely to the mortality rate among women with the
The online portal,,
notes that, initially, breast cancer may not cause any symptoms. It
states that you may not even feel or notice a small lump; or, where it
is present, the lump may be too small to cause any unusual changes that
you can notice on your own.
Usually, physicians say, it’s only when
you do a mammogram (X-ray of the breast) that the machine picks an
abnormal area, following which the doctor will recommend further
The American Cancer Society proffers
that in some cases, the first sign of breast cancer is a new lump or
mass in the breast that you or your doctor can feel.
“A lump that is painless, hard, and has
uneven edges is more likely to be cancer,” Ajekigbe warns. He adds, “But
sometimes, cancers can be tender, soft, and rounded. So it’s important
to have anything unusual checked by your doctor.”
The oncologist advises all women to have
a clinical breast exam at least every three years; and annual exams and
mammograms starting at age 40. “Women with a family history of breast
cancer should begin screening 10 years prior to the family member’s age
of diagnosis,” Ajekigbe adds.
The American Cancer Society says any of the following unusual changes in the breast can be a symptom of breast cancer:
•         Swelling of all or part of the breast
•         Skin irritation or dimpling
•         Breast pain
•         Nipple pain or the nipple turning inward
•         Redness, scaliness, or thickening of the nipple or breast skin
•         A nipple discharge other than breast milk
•         A lump in the underarm area
Of course, physicians say, these changes
can also be signs of less serious conditions that are not cancerous,
such as an infection or a cyst. But, in order to be sure, it’s important
to get any breast changes checked out promptly by a doctor, experts
Improving survival rate
At the launch of a new set of cancer
diagnosing machines — Ventana Benchmark GX — donated by Roche Pharma,
Nigeria, to LUTH last week, the Country Manager, Mr. Charles Forjour,
says using the Benchmark GX will help physicians to differentiate the
type of breast cancer an individual has, as well as enabling oncologists
to determine the best medication a particular patient will benefit
The Head of Department of Pathology Unit
of LUTH, Prof. Abdulkareem Fatimah, said, “With this machine, you
eliminate trial and error, as well as the long period of waiting for
manual test. “As for the patients, it saves them the stress of paying
for ticket, hotel bills, visa fees and the high cost of seeing a foreign
oncologist or oncology surgeon.”
The hospital’s Medical Director, Prof.
Akin Osibogun, noted that when the machine becomes operational, breast
cancer diagnosis and treatment will be based on clinical evidence, which
will ultimately lead to increased survival among patients.
“It will improve the quality of test and
immunohistochemistry report by the pathologist; and at the same time,
enhance local research in cancers, which will ultimately help in
gathering local data for clinical and policy decisions,” Osibogun said.

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1 Comment on "You can reduce your risk of breast cancer"

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Dr Zico

Girls should always check dear selves while bathing,,to ascertain when the lump is coming out for early medication……


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