Amidst the feast of pink, October symbolises the struggle for ongoing consciousness about Breast Cancer. With each woman having a 12% possibility of detecting the disease at least once in her life, raising awareness is as crucial as ever. We have explored all there is to know about breast cancer to understand more about this disease, recognise the signs and act.
The first case to be documented by physicians dates back to 3,500 years ago.
In 1985, October marked the first celebration of National Breast Cancer Awareness month.
Mammography was initially used in 1969 when breast imaging was first developed.
Cancer in the breast is the 2nd leading cause of cancer deaths in women after lung cancer.
35 women are diagnosed every day.
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Every year, 320 new cases are detected in Malta; 3% of which are men.
Most cases are recorded on women of 55 years and over.
Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in women after skin cancer.
Men also have breast tissue, which places them at a 1 in 1000 risk of getting breast cancer.
The disease is 100 times more common in women.
Even cats and dogs are prone to developing cancerous breast diseases.
A history of breast cancer in first-degree relatives (mothers, sisters, daughters) only elevates the risk by 5 to 10%.
Women who experienced earlier menstrual cycles or late menopause have slightly higher risk due to longer exposure to the oestrogen and progesterone hormones.
The cancer is more aggressive in younger women, especially with the diagnosis of inflammatory breast cancer.
Oestrogen is carried in fat cells, which makes obesity a high-risk factor.
The disease cannot be prevented; adopting a healthy lifestyle will help.
Survival rates have skyrocketed to 90% in the last years.
Left breasts are more prone to develop breast cancer cells.
Pregnant women have lower survival prospects if they discover breast cancer during their pregnancy.
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It doesn’t always come in the form of a lump – one can detect its presence by signs such as swelling, redness, itching, nipple discharge and breast pain that stays longer than 3 to 4 weeks.
For breast cancerous tissue to show through a mammogram, the cells would have been present for 6 to 10 years.
Breast cancers do not hurt, which means that lumps cannot be self-diagnosed through sensation.
Treatments vary according to the breast cancer type and diagnosis.
Cancer cells cannot be passed on through close human proximity.
Many women choose to undergo full mastectomies to reduce the risk of developing breast cancer tissues.
Use the three middle fingers for self-examination and use circular motions, so as not to mistake breast tissue for lumps.
Self-examine every month.
Mammograms can detect breast cancer 2 years before any lump is large enough to feel.
Never leave any suspicions undiagnosed – speak to a physician as soon as possible.
Treatment for both men and women is identical.
Breast cancer is not a death sentence; with technological improvements, women today have a better chance of survival.
Don’t let the truth scare you, use it to bring this cause to the forefront of your life and that of others. Set in motion a new movement of awareness – purchase a breast cancer awareness wristband from Thomas Smith’s offices in Luqa for a minimum of €1 – all proceeds will fuel Action for Breast Cancer Foundation’s work in Malta.