The month of October has been dedicated globally for creating awareness on breast cancer. Lots of slogans and activities were developed last month to promote this awareness; such slogans include “get pink on purpose”; breast cancer walk; pink for October; pink ribbon, “wear it pink”, “go passionately pink for the cure", “tough enough to wear pink” to mention a few.
The questions that come to mind are: what is the impact of this awareness on the public; has it actually changed the attitude of people to this globally increasing life threatening illness and finally what are the next steps to take?
Let us take a step further and DO SOMETHING.
The aim of this piece is to steer us all to be proactive as early detection is the key to total eradication of breast cancer.
Now lets understand some facts about breast cancer; for this purpose of this forum we will have three series on the topic viewing from our perspective.
Firstly, identifying the risk factors as discussed below, secondly adopting and maintaining a healthy lifestyle that will be discussed in the next series and finally early detection, which involves constant and periodic physical examination and this, will be extensively discussed in the last series.
Identifying/Assessing your risk.
Risk factors are predisposing factor that increase your chances of developing breast cancer they include but are not limited to:
- Age: The risk of developing breast cancer increases with age.
- Gender: Women are more prone to breast cancer than men although a small percentage of men also have the disease.
- Family history/Genetics: 5-10% 0f breast cancer occurrence occurs in families with mutated genes BRCA1 & 2.
- Heritage: Certain races or lineage such as African American carry BRCA gene mutation, which is positive for breast cancer.
- Personal history: A woman that has had breast cancer previously has an increased risk of having the cancer again.
- Menstruation: Women who start menstruation younger than 12 years and achieve menopause older than 55 years are at a higher risk of having breast cancer.
- Breast density: High breast density makes detection of tumors more difficult with screening mammogram.
- Chest radiations: Women who had chest radiation treatment at a younger age especially during breast development are more prone to developing breast cancer
- Diethylstilbestrol (DES) exposure: Women who took DES; a form of hormone estrogen during pregnancy to prevent miscarriage are of higher risk of breast cancer.
These are some of the factors that could lead to breast cancer. However, risk can be reduced when these factors have been identified and control measures put in place, hence preventing exposure to cancer.
En-pact Solutions Limited, 2012