Breast cancer awareness raised

2018-10-09 06:00
Minister NomaFrench Mbombo with women at the PinkDrive mobile breast unit.

Minister NomaFrench Mbombo with women at the PinkDrive mobile breast unit.

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In commemoration of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Health MEC Dr Nomafrench Mbombo visited Mitchell’s Plain Hospital along with PinkDrive on Monday last week.

Throughout the month there will be an intensified drive to raise awareness of the debilitating disease within not only the female population, but also the underemphasised diagnosis in men as well.

Breast cancer has an age-standardised incidence rate of 27 per 100 000 women, and is a major cause of cancer mortality, accounting for 16% of cancer deaths among women. “The number of patients seen at our symptomatic breast clinics during April 2017 to March 2018 comes to 7536. In 608 of these cases positive breast cancers were identified,” says Mbombo.

“At Groote Schuur Hospital between 10 and 20 new breast cancers are diagnosed every week. We have seen an overall increase of 6.8% of new cancers, and most alarming is the increase in the diagnosis of cancer in women under the age of 30.”

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

“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 so as to improve 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,” she says

Family history plays an important role in contracting the disease. Especially first-degree relatives (mother or sister) 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. The most common presenting complaint is that of a palpable 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 axilla.

Early breast cancers may be picked up by ultrasound or mammography before a lump can be felt. Early detection and self-examination is vital. For women, monthly breast self-examination two days after the last day of your period is the most important screening method. If you are not sure how to perform breast self-examination, ask your doctor to show you how.

Women over the age of 45 should consider going for regular mammograms­.

Depending on each individual’s unique risk profile, mammography should be discussed with your doctor.

Younger women have denser breast tissue and would benefit more from an ultrasound examination.

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