October Is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

by October 7, 2013

October is breast cancer awareness month which is an annual campaign marked in countries across the world every October to increase the awareness of the disease. While most people know about breast cancer, many forget to take the steps to have a plan to detect the disease in its early stages and encourage others to do the same.


Breast cancer is by far the most common cancer in women worldwide, both in the developed and developing countries.  About 1.38 million new cases and 458 000 deaths from breast cancer each year.

There is still not sufficient knowledge on the causes of breast cancer, therefore, early detection of the disease remains the cornerstone of breast cancer control. When breast cancer is detected early, and if adequate diagnosis and treatment are available, there is a good chance that breast cancer can be cured. If detected late, however, curative treatment is often no longer an option. In such cases, palliative care to alleviate the suffering of patients and their families is needed.

The majority of deaths (269 000) occur in low- and middle-income countries, where most women with breast cancer are diagnosed in late stages due mainly to the lack of awareness on early detection and barriers to health services.

While breast cancer in men is similar to the disease in women, there are some differences. For the most part, breast cancer in men is treated like breast cancer in women.  Breast cancer in men is rare. Less than 1% of all breast cancers occur in men.

Self Examination

A breast self-examination (BSE) involves checking your breasts to help detect changes. Many breast problems are actually first discovered by women themselves, often by accident. Breast lumps can be noncancerous (benign) or cancerous (malignant).

A breast self-examination involves checking your breasts for lumps or changes while standing and lying in different positions and while looking at your breasts in a mirror to note any changes in their appearance.  It takes practice to perform a thorough breast self-examination. Ask your doctor for tips that can help you perform a breast self-examination correctly.

Once you know what your breasts normally look and feel like, any new lump or change in appearance should be evaluated by a doctor. Most breast problems or changes are not because of cancer.

  • Any new lump. It may or may not be painful to touch.
  • Unusual thick areas.
  • Sticky or bloody discharge from your nipples.
  • Any changes in the skin of your breasts or nipples, such as puckering or dimpling.
  • An unusual increase in the size of one breast.
  • One breast unusually lower than the other.

self check

Breast cancer can occur at any age, though it is most common in women older than 50.

If you choose to do breast self-examinations, this should not replace regular clinical breast examinations (CBE) by a doctor and mammograms.

We know that making time for yourself isn’t always easy, but spending a few minutes talking to your doctor about BSE or getting screened could save your life. Now isn’t that worth the time?

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