One thing is certain; breast cancer is the most common diagnosis amongst women in Nigeria and it continues to spread to other parts of the world.
Science has gone a long way in establishing treatments and therapy for breast cancer, nevertheless, ignorance of these treatments has been the factor that causes reduction in mortality rate among women.
Detecting the early signs and symptoms of breast cancer are often not noticeable, that is why medical experts would recommend that women should regularly check at least once a month for breast cancer, especially those whose family has a history of the disease.
Self breast examination is what one can do at home to ascertain the signs or even breast screening. Even though you can self examine your breast for lumps and irregular growth on your own, it is better that you allow a health expert do it instead.
Breast detection programs are offered to women at virtually all hospitals in Nigeria as the awareness and sensitization of breast cancer goes from state to state.
For example, Pink Project Blue initiative is a non-profit organization that offers free breast screening, medical advice and mammography services for women in every state in Nigeria every year.
The following are the warning signs and symptoms of breast cancer:
Lump in the Breast and Breast pain
When you experience a sharp pain in your breast, it could trigger a pricky feeling mixed with fear that leaves you in doubt whether it is a symptom of cancer or not. If this pain is seldom, seek medical attention.
A breast lump is one of the first signs noticeable in both women and men. It is better that a Diagnostic Mammogram or a MRI scan be carried out to ascertain whether or not it is feasible especially when there is swelling under the armpit. Please note that not all lumps is breast cancer
Nipple/Breast Colour Changes
This sign usually follows flattening of the breast, accompanied by tenderness or pain in the breast. If you notice a reddish surface, know that the cancer has gotten to an advanced stage.
Rashes around the nipple which causes itching can be associated with this symptom. If you also notice any discharge from the breast that is bloody or mucus like contact a medical professional for advice
Causes of Breast Cancer
Breast cancer can be caused by different factors; some are genetic while others are caused by our interactions with the environments.
These genetic factors are mostly inherited or from genetic imbalance or mutations. Those caused by environmental factors bothers much on what we eat, kind of life-style we keep, stress, medicine such as birth control pills and even the mindset.
Prevention as we all know is better than cure and there are ways to detect and prevent breast cancer apart from looking out for early signs.
To reduce the risk of breast cancer, we have to live a healthy life style, mind our eating habits and engage in regular exercises like Yoga, Aerobics, keep a positive mind-set, etc. Below are some tips to consider if you want to reduce the risk of having breast cancer:
- Keeping a healthy weight
- Avoid too much dependence on fast foods like junks but eating more of balanced diets, fruits and vegetables
- Been active in all endeavours, keeping fit, jogging and generally doing exercises.
- Avoiding smoking and other forms of addiction that impairs the health.
- Avoiding alcohol since it is a cancer causing substance.
There are treatments for every stage of cancer. These below are some practices used by specialists to treat breast cancer:
- Lumpectomy- This is a situation when the doctor removes the tumor while leaving the breast intact, but it depends on the type of cancer.
- Mastectomy- This is when a doctor uses through surgery to remove all the breast tissues, the tumor and tissue connecting it.
- Chemotherapy-This is the most popular cancer treatment, and it involves the use of anticancer drugs. These drugs interfere with cells’ ability to reproduce.
- Radiation uses X-rays to treat cancer directly.
- Hormone and targeted therapy can be used when either genes or hormones play a part in the cancer’s growth.
These are the test doctors perform, when you feel pains in the breast area or the growth of a lump on the breast, armpits or even nipple problems and discharge
Your doctor might also want to know about your history as to ascertain if anyone in your family ever had the disease. This is because; breast cancer can be genetically transmitted from parent to offspring or runs in the gene of the family.
Your doctor will also ask you questions about the kind of medications you take, when you started noticing the symptoms and might offer you probable advice.
Possible X-ray of the breast which helps clarifies whether it is a benign and malignant mass might also be requested by your doctor.
This is used to produce an image of the tissue.
Another noninvasive imaging test used in examining the breast tissue
It should be noted that the treatment of cancer takes a long time and can reoccur despite initial treatment, that is why patients are always monitored.
Reoccurence is always caused either due to failure of x-ray in detecting a cancerous cell or due to a swelling in the arm or breast area. The symptoms of a recurrence are likewise the same as the systems to the first breast cancer.