Fight Breast Cancer with Early Detection
The hardest battle, arguably, is one that involves an invisible enemy.
For decades, this has been the case for humanity’s long-standing fight against cancer. Cancer is extremely stealthy and undeniably cruel. This characteristic is especially true with breast cancer. It will strike without warning and manifest itself in the human body in a silent but deadly manner, only making its presence realized at the last crucial moments when it had taken over the body and the only option that would seem fit to fight it is a miracle.
Based on the Philippine Cancer Facts and Estimates (PCFE) published by the Philippine Cancer Society, breast cancer ranks first among all cancers in the country. In fact, breast cancer is already one of the most common diseases in the country which accounts for 16 percent of all reported cancer cases and nearly 30 percent of all female cancers. Although this disease could also be experienced by men, experts project that 3 out of every 100 Filipina will have this disease in their lifetime.
While women’s commendable and fruitful battle to freedom goes a long way, a modern Filipina’s fight to be freed from breast cancer is a tough one down a long road first, because it is rampant to woman and second and most significantly because it still hangs incurable.
However, even with still unknown causes of breast cancer and unknown cure for the late stages, oncology experts highly recommends breast screening, the closest possible way to prevent it.This is the nearest method to prevent the spread of cancer.
Breast screening is having an examination of the breast while there are still no symptoms or indication of cancer such as lump or pain so that cancer will be discovered early. A breast cancer discovered from stage 0 to stage 1, where lump is only the size of a peanut, stands a high chance of being cured.
Even with the available screening methods, still, the best way to prevent breast cancer is to be knowledgeable about it, learn its manifestations, symptoms and indications. Here are several symptoms or indication of breast cancer:
- breast or nipple pain
- skin irritation or dimpling of the area around the nipples
- unusual discharge from the nipple
- painless lump in the breast
- nipple is retracted or pulled
- redness or thickening of the nipple or breast skin
Here are several screening methods/ tests that are used to detect breast cancer:
Mammograms are x-ray images of the breast that can detect changes of the breast such as abnormal densities and calcium deposits.
This uses sound waves to produce pictures of the internal structures of the breast. Unlike a mammogram, it cannot detect calcifications or whether a solid lump is cancerous but it is the best way to know if the abnormality is solid (benign fribroadenoma or cancer) or fluid-filled (such as benign cyst).
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
This uses radio waves and strong magnetic field and computer to produce detailed pictures of structures within the breast. It may be used to screen women with high risk of cancer and evaluate the extent of cancer and abnormalities seen on mammography.
CBE or Clinical Breast Exam is the physical exam of the breasts and underarm area by trained healthcare professionals. It should be done every 1 to 3 years starting from age 20 and every year starting from age 40.
Contrarily, a person should conduct her own physical examination to familiarize herself with the size, shape, feel and changes of her breast.
Here are the steps in doing a Physical Examination of the Breast:
- Place a pillow under the right shoulder and the right arm behind the head.
- Using the left hand, move the pads of the fingers around the right breast gently in small circular motions covering the entire breast area and armpit.
- Use light, medium, and firm pressure.
- Squeeze the nipple; check for discharge and lumps.
According to World Health Organization, incidence of breast cancer is increasing in the Philippines, a developing country, due to increase life expectancy, urbanization and more importantly, adoption to unhealthy lifestyle. The curability of breast cancer, therefore, lies deeply on our farsighted approach of the matter. A regular physical exam, our diet and lifestyle and awareness of health issues present in our lineage are significant factors in the prevention of the disease.
Finally, it has always been said that prevention is better than cure, but sometimes, prevention is the cure.