It would not be surprising, therefore, that any ailment or condition that endangers the look, health and functionality of this vital body part would be a real source of worry to every lady.
Breast cancer, despite all medical and technological advances, as been on the rise in the last 50 years or so. The figures that stare us in the face when we check the records are quite alarming. But, there is no running away from these figures, they are real.
It's alarming but it is true that there's more breast cancer now than ever before. It is true that between 1979 and 1986 the incidence of invasive breast cancer in the United States alone has increased 29 percent among white women and 41 percent among black women, and incidences of all breast cancers doubled. It's true that despite yearly mammograms and advanced medical and diagnostic technology the percentage of women dying from breast cancer has remained virtually unchanged over the past 50 years, and that every 12 minutes throughout the last half of the 20th Century another woman died of breast cancer.
It is also fact that more than two hundred thousand cases of breast cancer are diagnosed every year in the United States. In Canada about twenty thousand new cases, thirteen thousand in Australia and over forty one thousand in the UK. And it's true that breast cancer is the disease that women fear more than any other, that breast cancer is the biggest killer of all women aged 35 to 54, and that of the 2.5 million women currently diagnosed with breast cancer, half will be dead within ten years.
It really does not matter if you are 20 years old or 50 years old. You stand some risk of catching the monster. It is estimated that one in every nine women will get breast cancer at some period in her life
These are not pleasant tales. My purpose in painting these gory pictures, is not to scare anyone, but to make you see the importance of giving more attention to your breast. The more you know about breast cancer, the better.
Almost every woman is at risk of breast cancer, but records show that 80% of cases are found in woman over 50 years of age. There are several factors that can predispose one to breast cancer. Some are within your control and others are not. It therefore makes much sense to avoid the humanly controllable factors as much as possible. Most of these are the daily lifestyle choices we make. The problem is that these habits do not show the extent of damage they can cause to our body until we begin to get older, and by then the damage is done already.
Factors associated with breast cancer include:
- Taking an oral contraceptive pill
- Hormone replacement therapy
- Obesity and/or high fat diets
- Family history of breast cancer
It is worth stating here, however, that most breast cancers are hormonally related Other factors may also affecting the risk, include stress, carcinogens, excessive use of stimulants like alcohol, caffeine and cigarettes and exposure to pesticides and radiation.
Early detection of breast cancer is still the best guarantee of getting cured. Presently, six out of every seven patients diagnosed with breast cancer are cured at an early stage. However, if they are diagnosed when the cancer has become advanced, the cure rate falls to about one in seven. It is extremely important to catch breast cancer at an early stage if it is to be satisfactorily cured. This therefore makes knowing the symptoms very crucial.
Breast cancer, in its early stages hardly shows any sign at all. It does not cause any pain in most instances. Some of the symptoms associated with breast cancer include:
- Itching in the armpit or around the breast region
- Pink, red, or dark colored area (called erythematic) with texture similar to the skin of an orange
- Ridges and thickened areas of the skin of nipple or breast
- Appearance of a bruise that does not go away
- Nipple getting inverted
- Breast warm to the touch
- Pain in the breast which could vary from a constant ache to stabbing pains
- Change in texture as well as color of the skin around the nipple
- Change in the shape or size of a breast
- Dimpling of the breast skin
- Swelling or a lump in the armpit
- Discharge from the nipple
None of these symptoms is clear evidence of breast cancer, as most of the signs may also arise due to other conditions affecting the breast. Only a doctor can made a definite statement about the presence or otherwise of breast cancer after an exhaustive examination.
Know your breast, and how to self examine your breast and always report the slightest changes to a doctor. It's not worth taking chances with breast cancer. It's real and it's spreading like wild fire in the ever-polluted society we live in today. Do the little you can to keep your name off the breast cancer list, the sacrifice is worth it.