Were you aware, that October is breast cancer awareness month? Breast screening is another of my hot topics that I feel needs to be discussed more openly. It has been widely known for a very long time that the sooner breast cancer is detected, the better the outcome. Why then is breast screening another of those topics that it’s not ok to talk about? Surely, the more it’s talked about, the more people will check that those women in their lives that they are close to, are checking their breasts correctly. My partner was only 14yrs old when his mother was first diagnosed with breast cancer and it was only a few weeks before his 21st birthday, that she sadly passed away. A couple of months ago, it was the 5th anniversary of a small lump being found in his sister’s breast. The lump was detected during a routine mammogram. Thankfully, minor surgery and preventative medication have provided a positive outcome. I’ve been doing it for that long now, that I can’t even remember what age I was when I started checking my own breasts. The very first day that I became eligible for fully funded mammograms, I registered and booked my first appointment. I did feel a small amount of discomfort during the screening process. But, it was nothing major and in my opinion a lot less invasive than having a cervical smear test done. Isn’t a little or a lot of discomfort for a short while, worth it when you consider that it could save your life?
WHAT IS BREAST CANCER?
Normally, the cells in our breasts are created, grow and die in a controlled way. However, when abnormal changes occur in the genes which usually regulate this process, normal gene function can be turned on or off. Damaged cells are then able to keep growing and dividing and a tumour is formed. Between 85 & 90% of breast cancers are caused by this process. The other, 5-10% are due to an inherited gene mutation.
Benign Tumour is a non-cancerous growth which does not spread to other areas of the body and not usually not life-threatening. Malignant Tumour is cancerous and does have the potential to grow and spread to form secondary tumours. When this happens, it’s called advanced, metastatic or secondary breast cancer.
- Breast cancer is the most common cancer of New Zealand women and the 3rd most common cancer overall.
- Between 70 75% of the women diagnosed with breast cancer in New Zealand are aged 50 plus.
- 6% of women diagnosed with breast cancer in New Zealand are 40yrs or younger.
- In New Zealand 25 males each year are diagnosed with breast cancer.
- More than 600 New Zealand women die each year from breast cancer.
- 30% of eligible women in New Zealand do not access fully funded breast screening.
WHAT SIGNS DO I LOOK OUT FOR?
HOW DO I EXAMINE MY BREASTS CORRECTLY?
HOW CAN I REDUCE THE RISK OF BREAST CANCER?
- Stop smoking
- Limit Alcohol consumption
- Healthy body weight
- Regular exercise
- Healthy eating
- Manage stress
THERE IS NO INCREASED RISK OF BREAST CANCER FROM:
- A blow or injury to the breast
- Wearing underwire bra’s
- Carrying your mobile phone in your bra
- Standard saline or silicone implants
- Deodorants or antiperspirants
- Commercial or home hair dye kits
- Electromagnetic fields from wires or electronic devices