In support of Breast Health Awareness Month in South Africa, the RSSA is highlighting the benefits of good breast health and promoting breast imaging for detecting breast cancer in its early stages and all participating members of the RSSA are offering a 10% discount on mammograms and breast MRI during the month of October and first half of November.
In ‘Westernised’ communities the incidence increases to one in eight and if you have close relative who had breast cancer the risk increases to one in six. October is Breast Health Awareness Month, and women throughout the world are looking at ways to reduce the risk of getting breast cancer and diagnosing it early to optimise treatment.
Dr Clive Sperryn, President of the Radiological Society of South Africa (RSSA) emphasises the role of the radiologist in the early diagnosis of breast cancer. ‘ Early diagnosis gives the cancer patient a higher chance of complete cure and less extensive surgery’ says Dr Sperryn. Early detection is an important factor in winning the battle against breast cancer.”
Breast cancer is a malignant tumour that starts from the cells of the breast with most breast cancers forming in the cells that line the ducts. There are a number of factors that contribute to the formation of breast cancer, some of which are lifestyle related, as well as age and heredity factors. Changes in DNA, smoking, excessive alcohol intake and diets high in saturated fat play a major role.
Symptoms of breast cancer include a new lump or mass. A painless, hard lump which has uneven edges is more likely to be cancer. However some cancers are tender, soft and rounded. Other signs of breast cancer include, swelling, skin irritation, nipple pain or a nipple turning inward, redness, scaliness or thickening of the nipple or breast skin, discharge (other than milk), or a lump in the underarm area.
‘The radiologist’s aim is to detect breast cancer before any of these signs appear’ says Dr Sperryn. A mammogram is an x-ray of the breast.
The mainstay of screening for breast cancer is the mammogram for women with both normal and increased risk factors. Ultrasound is used as an additional tool to assess abnormalities detected on mammography or to give additional information in women who have dense breast tissue. Women with a higher risk, (family history of breast cancer or carriers of the rare breast cancer gene) should in addition to mammography consider annual breast MRI studies. Breast MRI is now the ‘Gold Standard ‘ in breast imaging and is up to three times more accurate than mammography in the diagnosis of early breast cancer.
The National Cancer Institute recommends that women aged 40 or older should have a mammogram every 1-2 years. An annual clinical breast examination, by a healthcare professional, over and above their own monthly breast self-examination is essential because some cancers cannot be detected by a screening mammogram but may be detected clinically. “Women at high risk should have annual mammography and breast MRI,” says Dr Sperryn.
In support of Breast Health Awareness Month in South Africa, the RSSA is highlighting the benefits of good breast health and promoting breast imaging for detecting breast cancer in its early stages. All participating members of the RSSA are offering a 10% discount on mammograms and breast MRI during the month of October and first half of November. Terms and conditions apply.
“Mammography or breast MRI as part of an annual health check should be part of a healthy lifestyle!” concludes Dr Sperryn.
(Press release, September 2011)