NATIONAL NEWS - Apart from non-melanoma skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women of all races, with a lifetime risk of one in 27 in South Africa, according to the 2014 National Cancer Registry (NCR).
The risk for breast cancer increases as women grow older, but many women under the age of 40 are diagnosed with breast cancer.
All women are at risk, and in particular women with a family history of breast cancer. Being overweight, inactive, consuming alcohol, poor dietary habits, smoking and exposure to chemicals also increase risk.
Cynthia Erasmus says: “Don’t ignore your body; if something feels off, no matter how insignificant, like excessive hair fall, nail discolouration or tiredness - this is your body warning you that something is wrong. I had all of these symptoms before I even felt the lump that changed my life. Looking back now I realise that if I had acted sooner, perhaps I could just have had a lumpectomy instead of a double mastectomy,” says a cancer survivor.
Reduce risk, examine
While not all breast lumps indicate cancer, they should be investigated, especially if accompanied by other changes in breasts or the underarm area, such as lumps, texture changes, thickening, dimpling, changes in shape or size of nipples or breasts, tenderness, discharge, rash or swelling, or one breast suddenly being slightly larger than the other.
Research has shown that a regular breast self-examination (BSE) plays an important role in discovering breast cancer, compared to finding a breast lump by chance.
A BSE should be done once a month, preferably at the same time of day, following a woman’s menstrual cycle.
A short video clip on how to complete a breast self-examination can be viewed at Youtube: youtu.be/7ef2RF_9U4c.
If you feel or see any change in your breasts or underarms, arrange for a clinical breast examination at the George Cansa Care Centre (044 874 4824), a primary health care centre or health practitioner.
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