Breast Cancer Prevention




October is a month that usually commemorates breast cancer awareness.
I actually did a post on Breast cancer prevention last year. You can read about it here.




I have read different articles all over the internet where people place emphasis on self breast examination only, which is contrary to the latest suggestion of  the American Cancer Society. They proposed  that self-breast examination is no longer recommended as a screening tool for women with average risk of breast cancer. This is based on ongoing uncertainties raised by various studies.
Over the years, there has been some debate over just how valuable breast self-examination is in detecting breast cancer early and increasing the likelihood of survival. For example, a 2008 study of nearly 400,000 women in Russia and China reported that breast self-examination does not have a meaningful impact on breast cancer survival rates and may even cause harm by prompting unnecessary biopsies (removal and examination of suspicious tissue).

However, Breastcancer.org still believes that breast self-examination is a vital and crucial screening tool, especially when used in combination with regular physical exams by a doctor, mammography, and in some cases ultrasound and/or MRI. Each of these screening tools works in a different way and has strengths and weaknesses. 
Does it sound slightly confusing? Don't be. It is okay to have holistic understanding of why we do whatever we do. Also to know the medical evidence supporting any health suggestions we decide to follow through. Anyway, it does not hurt anyone to keep an eye on things by yourself.
Breast self-exam is a convenient, no-cost tool that you can use on a regular basis and at any age.
However, this should not annul your regular, annual general medical check up.
 It is recommended that all women routinely perform breast self-exams as part of their overall breast cancer screening strategy.

For the curious minds, here are a few facts worth knowing on researches currently being done to reduce breast cancer risk. 
Researchers continue to look for medicines that might help lower breast cancer risk, especially women who are at high risk.

Hormone therapy drugs are typically used to help treat breast cancer, but some might also help prevent it. Tamoxifen and raloxifene have been used for many years to prevent breast cancer.  More recent studies with another class of drugs called aromatase inhibitors (exemestane and anastrozole) have shown that these drugs are also very effective in preventing breast cancer.
Other clinical trials are looking at non-hormonal drugs for breast cancer reduction. Drugs of interest include drugs for osteoporosis and bone metastases, COX-2 inhibitors, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and statins (used to lower cholesterol).
Sorry if those facts sounded a little highfalutin, it basically means researchers are working really hard to get a cure for breast cancer, as well as reduce the risk.

How to do a breast self-exam

The five steps are highlighted below:

Step 1: Begin by looking at your breasts in the mirror with your shoulders straight and your arms on your hips.

Here's what you should look for:

Breasts that are their usual size, shape, and color
Breasts that are evenly shaped without visible distortion or swelling
If you see any of the following changes, bring them to your doctor's attention:

Dimpling, puckering, or bulging of the skin
A nipple that has changed position or an inverted nipple (pushed inward instead of sticking out)
Redness, soreness, rash, or swelling

Breast self exam1 tcm8 326732

Step 2: Now, raise your arms and look for the same changes.

Step 3: While you're at the mirror, look for any signs of fluid coming out of one or both nipples (this could be a watery, milky, or yellow fluid or blood).

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Step 4: Next, feel your breasts while lying down, using your right hand to feel your left breast and then your left hand to feel your right breast. Use a firm, smooth touch with the first few finger pads of your hand, keeping the fingers flat and together. Use a circular motion, about the size of a quarter.

Cover the entire breast from top to bottom, side to side — from your collarbone to the top of your abdomen, and from your armpit to your cleavage.

Follow a pattern to be sure that you cover the whole breast. You can begin at the nipple, moving in larger and larger circles until you reach the outer edge of the breast. You can also move your fingers up and down vertically, in rows, as if you were mowing a lawn. This up-and-down approach seems to work best for most women. Be sure to feel all the tissue from the front to the back of your breasts: for the skin and tissue just beneath, use light pressure; use medium pressure for tissue in the middle of your breasts; use firm pressure for the deep tissue in the back. When you've reached the deep tissue, you should be able to feel down to your rib cage.

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Step 5: Finally, feel your breasts while you are standing or sitting. Many women find that the easiest way to feel their breasts is when their skin is wet and slippery, so they like to do this step in the shower. Cover your entire breast, using the same hand movements described in step 4.

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What to do if you find a lump :

See your doctor immediately!
Your doctor would examine it, do the necessary investigations to decide whether it is benign or malignant, and then outline the right management plan for you.

Show your breasts some concern today. Encourage the women as well as men (men too do have breast cancer) in your lives to check their breast regularly in order to help nip breast cancer in the bud. 
Prevention is usually better than a cure.
To all those fighting breast cancer today, receive strength. I support, admire and honour you.

"Remember how far you've come, not just how far you have to go. You may not be where you want to be, but neither are you where you used to be." 

Warm regards,
Dr Funmi

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