Jan 19, 2009, 6:01 AM
The Worldwide awareness of breast cancer
Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women worldwide (after skin and lung cancer) and the month of October has been internationally declared as the "World Awareness of Breast Cancer".
Our last week article about "what is cancer" found tremendous interest by our readers with numbers of phone calls and we therefore invited
Dr Hassan Azadeh who is a Senior Lecturer at the Medical School, University of the Gambia and Senior Consultant in Obstetrics and Gynaecology to focus on the importants of this common life-threatening Cancer disease in the Gambia.
Dr Azadeh what is actually breast cancer?
Breast cancer is the uncontrolled growth of some breast tissues in one or both breast and is one of the most common types of cancer in women worldwide. Nearly over 200,000 women in
The incidence of breast cancer begins in early adulthood, with a sharp rise in to the time of menopause and decreases after menopausal age of the women. Although the African, Asian and African- American women have a slightly lower incidence of breast cancer after age 40 than white women, they have a slightly higher incidence rate of breast cancer before age 40. However the African women are more likely to die from breast cancer at every age in most African countries due to lack of awareness and also due to lack of facilities for diagnostic and treatment on this deathly disease.
Breast cancer is not just a disease that affects only women, one present of all breast cancer occur in men too. In 2005, it's estimated that about 1,690 men has been diagnosed in the
HOW DOES BREAST CANCER CELLS GROW?
When hormone level changes during puberty in young girls who start with menstrual cycles, they develop some lumps in their breasts as well as during pregnancy and during breast feeding. These are natural development and are not abnormal. But any lump that dose not shrinks or disappears after one of these occasions should be assessed by health professionals. This in particular when there are any growths in the breasts of women with the family history of breast cancer or women in their menopausal or after menopausal age.
WHAT ARE THE INDIVIDUAL RISKS OF GETTING BREAST CANCER?
Further risks are:
I must emphasize that obesity and eating high fat foods contributes tremendously in the developing number of life threatening diseases including breast cancer. This is based on several large medical studies confirming the link between obesity and development of cancer disease. Avoiding high fat foods is a healthy choice for many reasons: it lowers "bad cholesterol" and increases the “good cholesterol” and certainly decreases the risk of developing not only cancer disease but also common diseases like high blood pressure and diabetes. A healthy diet and regular exercises help keep your weight at a healthier level and prevent you from developing life threatening and deadly diseases.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF BREAST CANCER
Nearly all breast tumours are found by physical examination (either by self breast-examination or by health care professionals), mammogram (a special x-ray) or by scanning of the breast that can detect any normal or abnormal changes of the breast tissues before it is big enough to be felt during a physical examination.
Symptoms can vary based on the severity of the disease. There are specific factors that should raise suspicion of a growth in the breast. These include:
The most common initial signs of breast cancer can be diagnosed on mammogram and the abnormalities can often be seen long before a woman or a doctor detects any physical changes in the breast. However, breast cancer, when advanced, causes pain, redness and swelling of the skin. It is strongly advised that if a woman has been diagnosed with any kind of breast infection and that infection does not improve on treatment (approximately within 2 weeks) then the possibility of suspected abnormalities should be considered and advise should be sought from health professionals.
WHAT CAUSES BREAST CANCER?
Most current evidences indicate that "estrogen hormone" (which is highly sensitive and found in breast tissues) is responsible for the cause of breast cancer. Fortunately, a blood test to indicate the high sensitivity of this hormone which can be inherited from immediate members of the family (mother to daughter or descendants) is available but unfortunately not available in the
TIPS ON BREAST SELF EXAMINATION
Women should give themselves a breast self- exam each month, beginning at the age of 20. This exam should be performed at about the same time every month.
Here are suggestions on what to look for during breast self exams:
Any of these warning signs should be investigated and diagnosed by a doctor or a trained medical professional as soon as possible.
HOW IS BREAST CANCER TREATED?
The care chosen to treat an individual with breast cancer depends on a number of criteria including the type and stage of the cancer. The care given may consist of surgery, radiation, chemotherapy or a combination of all.
Treatment regimens may be used to prevent the spread of breast cancer to the opposite breast and to reduce the incidence of spreading to other organs.
BREAST CANCER AND PREGNANCY
Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers in pregnant women and tends to affect women in their mid thirties. Although only about one in every 3000 pregnant women get breast cancer, the disease can be devastating to both the mother and the child.
A major problem is that a lot of changes take place in women's breast during pregnancy. This makes it harder to identify suspicious lumps. If a suspicious lump is found, you must seek advice from your doctor, midwife or trained nurse for appropriate diagnosis of a normal or abnormal growth in your breast.
Where in the
Doctors, midwives and trained Nurses through out the country are happy to advice you on this common disease and are able to arrange for referral to specialists. Fortunately the diagnostic facilities to perform Mammogram for appropriate diagnoses on breast diseases are now available at RVTH.
For further information please contact RUTH, BAFROW'S Clinics, Gambia Family Planning Association (GFPA) Clinic, RVTH, where you can get information about Breast diseases and in particular the correct way of a self- breast examination. We are delighted to advice and help you for your worrying of this common disease. Also contact DR Azadeh on 7774469 and 3774469.