Staying in front
The latest research to keep you ahead of breast cancer
56 per cent of women report breast cancer in the later stages
61 per cent of breast cancer patients are between the ages of 35 and 50
75 per cent of breast lumps are benign (but get it checked by a doctor anyway)
One in 30 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer (up from one in 40, two years ago). You think it won’t happen to you — and you’re probably right. While the risk over all has increased, we’re also better informed than ever about preventing, detecting and treating the disease, and early diagnosis leads to a higher chance of survival.
HOW TO GET STARTED
Do it yourself
First step: get to know your breasts better with a self-exam. A monthly touch-and-feel (after the last day of your period) will give you a baseline to go by, so you’ll notice immediately if something is off. The self-exam is the simplest test and it’s never too late to do one. You can do it in the shower, on the bed or in front of a mirror, and no, you can’t trust your partner to do it for you. If you do find something unusual, remain calm; most breast lumps are benign but only an appointment with a doctor can confirm this.
Visit an expert
While it’s important to conduct a monthly self-exam, don’t skip the annual doctor’s visit. A clinical breast exam is an important part of early detection because your doctor will be able to watch out for suspicious changes in places that might fail to register with you. This is especially important for women under 40 who have denser breast tissue, which makes it tough to get accurate mammogram results.
Get a closer look
Don’t be alarmed if your doctor asks you to schedule an annual mammogram once you hit 40. Like an X-ray, it allows a specialist to examine your breasts in greater detail, and it’s recommended even if you are healthy. The test can often show a lump even before it can be felt. If you have a family history of breast cancer or the BRCA gene mutation, then chalk out a plan of action with your doctor. Looking for a hospital to get screened? Visit Ogaan Cancer Foundation’s website to find a clinic in your city.
HOW TO DO THE SELF-EXAM
1. Take the up-to-down approach and check from your collarbone to your underarms, the sides of your breasts and also underneath your breasts.
2. Press in a circular motion and repeat this exercise a second time using more pressure till you feel the breast tissue. Lumps can be as small as a pea.
3. Use a mirror to check for any abnormal changes: swelling, soreness, rashes, dimpled skin, darkening or nipple discharge.
4. If you find something suspicious, make an appointment with a doctor.
5. It’s important to know what’s normal for your breasts; for instance, women with fibrocystic breast tissue (a condition that leads to denser breast tissue) need to be diligent about self-exams as feeling bumps is common in this condition.
HOW TO CUT YOUR RISK
Put on your training shoes
It’s never too late to get healthy, especially when a new research claims that 30 minutes of walking over many years can reduce the risk of developing breast cancer significantly.
Eat like you’re Greek
Switch to a Mediterranean diet and eat lots of fruits and leafy veggies with a dash of olive oil to boost your immunity.
Skip happy hour
More than two drinks a day can increase your risk of breast cancer by 20 per cent.