“Mamma I love you .. I care for u ” this was what my 5 year old told me giving this as soon as he was back from school.He did not know the reason behind this small gift but i knew he meant it and reminded me that i need to take care of myself .
The pink ribbon worn in the month of October as a part of breast cancer awareness month in support of women with breast cancer.
Y wait till October to become aware .Let us do it right now.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women world wide.But how much do we know about it ??. There is still so much need and scope for awareness.We do not take it seriously in the subcontinent unless we know someone who is suffering from cancer or is on treatment .
But before u read ahead please remember that when u find a breast lump , it does not always mean cancer, there are many other causes for a lump in breast which are more common than carcinoma. So do not panic. All u have to do is take immediate consultation with your doctor- surgeon or your gynecologist who will guide you further regarding what tests you may require based on your individual condition.
So here i am sharing some things about breast carcinoma which may help us fight it together.
Breast cancer is treatable when detected early. So awareness is a crucial part.
The first step is self breast examination- that is examining your own breasts to look for any lumps or signs of carcinoma.
- All women above the age of 20 should be practicing this self breast examination.
- Frequency? maybe once a month preferably the days just after your monthly menstruation/ periods is complete.
Here are simple instructions how it can be done.
- Begin by looking at both breasts in mirror with hands on hips and shoulders straight. Look for their usual shape , size. Any nipple or skin changes.
- Now do the same with your arms raised above your head. Also look for any nipple discharge.
- Now feel the breasts while lying down.Use the tips of your fingers and keep them together. Use right hand for left breast and vice versa.You can use either circular motion or above downwards and side to side motion to cover the entire breast (from collarbone to top of your abdomen, from armpit to cleavage).
- Now repeat the same either in sitting/standing position.
U can follow the link here for picture illustration of self breast examination
Next is screening,
Let me first introduce you to term screening . Screening is the medical term used when we look for a disease before it causes any symptoms or signs.So in this context we are looking for breast carcinoma in earlier stage even before it causes any symptoms or signs.
The tool used for breast carcinoma is called mammography. It is something similar (but not same) to radiograph/ x-ray of the breasts. It is started at the age of 40-45 years and then repeated every year. This applies to individuals with no family history of breast cancer /any other risk factors. If you have a known risk factor like anyone in the family has had carcinoma of breast or any radiotherapy to chest due to some other reasons then you may have to start screening at an earlier age.
Please discuss with your doctor when u have decided to opt for screening as they may be able to guide and suggest to you the nearest appropriate center and further details.
Once screening mammography is done , if the report is normal, u should be returning back for your screening next year with self breast examination in the between time.
If the mammogram shows any suspicious lesion, then your doctor will be guiding you to take further tests accordingly to confirm the lesion.
Red flags : ( needs immediate attention)
- nipple retraction , new signs of inversion (pushed inwards instead of pointing out).
- breast lump with or without pain.
- any type of discharge from nipple.
- skin redness, soreness or rash
Any of the above signs, needs earliest consultation with the concerned doctor.
|Breast cancer occurs in elderly||Breast cancer can occur at any age|
|Breast cancer occurs only in females||Very rarely can occur in males|
|Breast cancer cannot be treated||Can be treated if detected early|
Is it not easy?
How can we contribute. Again simple.
Practice self breast examination.
Share the information with ladies around u and spread the awareness. Somewhere someday someone may be benefited. You never know.