Breast cancer increasing

2015-11-03 06:00
Front from left: Nomafrench Mbombo, provincial health minister, Molebogeneg, a Pink Drive mammographer, Maureen, a cancer survivor, Nuruniesa, a cancer survivor, Geraldine, a cancer survivor. At the back is Cameron February, a breast cancer patient.

Front from left: Nomafrench Mbombo, provincial health minister, Molebogeneg, a Pink Drive mammographer, Maureen, a cancer survivor, Nuruniesa, a cancer survivor, Geraldine, a cancer survivor. At the back is Cameron February, a breast cancer patient.

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With Breast Cancer Awareness Month drawing to a close, women and men are still encouraged to get checked.

Throughout last month, people across the country intensified the drive to raise awareness of breast cancer.

The incidence of breast cancer among South African women is increasing and it is one of the most common cancers.

Global statistics cite one in eight women get breast cancer; in the Western Cape this is one in 12.

At Groote Schuur Hospital, for example, between 10 and 20 new breast cancer patients are diagnosed every week.

Mitchell’s Plain Hospital performs 35 mastectomies a month. In the year so far 500 people were tested for breast cancer at the hospital; 15 of these patients were diagnosed with breast cancer and referred to Groote Schuur for treatment.

On Monday last week, provincial minister of health Dr Nomafrench Mbombo marked Breast Cancer Awareness Month at Mitchell’s Plain Hospital, in partnership with the Pink Drive and Cansa.

Breast cancer is the eighth top cause of death amongst women in the province, with 768 women who died as a result of breast cancer in 2012.

Breast cancer is one of the leading causes of death among women. Systematic approaches to early detection, diagnosis and treatment must be implemented to improve outcomes.

“I would like to encourage females, as well as males, to get screened for breast cancer as early as possible. Early detection is vital to get onto treatment that will improve the prognosis.

“Recently, we have seen an increase in males diagnosed with cancer. If you have a history of breast cancer in the family, please go to your nearest facility to get screened. The screening services are also offered through initiatives like Pink Drive, who visit Mitchell’s Plain Hospital and Groote Schuur Hospital regularly,” says Mbombo.

Groote Schuur provides treatment to patients referred from the majority of health facilities in the city. During the last financial year the hospital treated 6905 patients. Of these 492 were newly diagnosed breast cancer patients.

A further 457 clients were treated at Mitchell’s Plain Hospital as part of its outreach service.

In 2013 there were no men diagnosed with breast cancer but since last year there seems to be an increase in men and young woman getting breast cancer.

Last year, three men between the ages of 45 and 90 were diagnosed with breast cancer. So far this year eight men between the ages of 45 and 85 have already been diagnosed with breast cancer.

Male breast cancer is rare, accounting for 1% of all breast cancers.

Family history plays an important role in contracting the disease. Especially first degree relatives who were diagnosed at a relatively young age are important to mention to your doctor. The signs are the same for men and women: A breast lump with skin changes and/or a nipple discharge.

Signs and symptomsThere are specific signs or symptoms you should look out for. The most common complaint is that of a lump in the breast. These lumps are often not painful.

Other signs may include a bloody nipple discharge, skin changes and palpable lymph nodes in the underarm. Early breast cancers may be picked up by ultrasound or mammography before a lump can be felt.

Early detection and self-examination is vitalFor women, monthly breast self-examination two days after the last day of your period is the most important screening method. And costs nothing. If you are not sure how to perform a self-examination, ask your doctor to show you how.

Women over the age of 45 should consider going for regular mammography. Younger women have denser breast tissue and would benefit more from an ultrasound examination than a mammogram.

TreatmentGreat strides have been made in the treatment of breast cancer.

If detected early, breast cancer patients now have an excellent prognosis. No two individuals are the same, though, and many factors will influence survival, including the age of the patient, tumour characteristics, the stage of the disease and the treatment plan chosen by the patient.

Once you are diagnosed, several treatment options are available to you.

PreventionThere are many measures that minimise the risk of contracting the disease.

. Healthy diet with a normal weight

. Exercise

. Stop smoking

. Use alcohol in moderation

. Have your children before the age of 30 if possible and breastfeed.

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