The basic symptoms of breast cancer include: lump in the breast, change in breast shape, dimpling of the skin, discharge from the nipple, or red scaly patch of skin.
The causes of breast cancer are unknown. However, certain risk factors can increase a woman’s chances of developing the disease. The risk factors include: age (about 80% of diagnosed women are over 50 years of age), family history, hormone replacement therapy, alcohol, being overweight (especially after menopause), smoking, previous breast cancer or breastconditions, exposure to oestrogen hormone, among others. The steps below may be taken to prevent the disease.
All women should be aware of changes in their breasts. Breast self-examination (BSE) can help you detect any lump, whether benign or malignant. If a malignant lump (cancer) is detected or diagnosed early, it can be treated before spreading further to other parts of the body. This can consequently save you from worries, stress or even death. Ask your doctor for advice on how to carry out a BSE.
Furthermore, it’s advisable for women over 50 years of age to go for regular breast screening. Women of all ages (20 and above) should also go for a mammogram or clinical breast examination yearly or every two or three years (as the case may be).
Studies have shown that women who breastfeed are less likely to develop breast cancer than those who don’t. This may be due to the fall in a woman’s oestrogen levels during breast-feeding, and the release of oxytocin as baby suckles the breast.
HEALTHY EATING AND LIFESTYLE:
Maintaining a healthy eating habit/lifestyle is recommended for everyday living because it can prevent many health conditionsand diseases.
Endeavour to eat balanced diets each day, which includes plenty of fruits and vegetables. You should also eat lots of fibre and less of salt, sugar, fats, red or processed meat. Avoid or limit alcohol, don’t smoke and learn to relax.
Exercise regularly and consistently. This has shown to decrease the risk of breast cancer, keep you fit, help you control and maintain your weight.
WATCH YOUR WEIGHT:
Weight gain, especially in midlife, significantly increases the risk of breast cancer. Maintaining a heathy body weight is a key factor in preventing breast cancer.
LIMIT HORMONE THERAPY:
Postmenopausal hormone therapy can increase the risk of breast cancer. In place of this, you may ask your doctor for otheroptions to relieve menopausal symptoms. If you must take hormone therapy, use the lowest dose possible and for the shortest duration.
Two main treatments for the prevention of breast cancer are: Prophylactic Mastectomy (preventive surgery to remove the breasts) and Medication. However, these are only administered in women with a high risk.
Where a prophylactic mastectomy is done, it can reduce the risk of breast cancer by 90 to 97%. Similarly, certain drugs like tamoxifen and raloxifen block the effects of oestrogen and have been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer.