October is known as “Breast Cancer Awareness Month” in South Africa. It’s a nationwide drive to raise awareness of a debilitating disease across all races and class structures.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women. Based on statistic alone it is safe to say that breast cancer requires more attention than your annual check-up. Survival rates vary worldwide and much of this variation is due to late detection. The later the detection, the later the stage of breast cancer and therefore the lower the survival rate, despite more intensive therapy, says Dr Justus Apffelstaedt specialist surgeon with an interest in breast, thyroid and parathyroid health as well as soft tissue surgical oncology.
Facts about breast cancer:
- Early detection of the condition can lead to effective treatment and a positive prognosis. About 90% of patients survive for many years after diagnosis when breast cancer is detected at the early stages.
- Regular self-breast examination and regular mammograms are key to early detection.
- Presenting yourself early for treatment may result in more effective treatment, leading to a reduction in pain and suffering and a significant decrease in the loss of life.
How to look after your breast health:
- Do a monthly breast self-examination.
- Have an annual clinical breast examination by a healthcare professional.
- Go for annual mammography
How to reduce your risk of breast cancer
- Stay away from too many saturated fats by avoiding fried, including junk food.
- Eat more fresh fruit and vegetables.
- Watch your weight, as increased body fat is linked to an increase in estrogen levels.
- Avoid drinking more than two alcoholic drinks per day.
- Exercise more to decrease your breast cancer risk by up to 30%.
- Know your family history and if you are at a higher risk than normal, then ensure that you are screened regularly.