Breast cancer is a disease that should make every woman sit up and listen! It is the most common form of malignant disease in women. It develops in approximately 15% of women by the time they reach eighty years of age, and it is the leading cause of death in women aged between 44-55 years. Men may also suffer from cancer of the breast; however the incidence is 100 times less likely than in females.
In the case of so many diseases, prevention is the best cure. Even if women have an annual breast examination by a professional (and most do not), thus it still leaves eleven months of the year that you will need to examine your own breasts.
The most common signs of breast cancer are a lump in the breast; abnormal thickening of the breast; or a change in the shape or color of the breast. Finding a lump or change in your breast does not necessarily mean you have breast cancer. Additional changes that may also be signs of breast cancer include:
- Any new, hard lump or thickening in any part of the breast
- Change in breast size or shape
- Dimpling or puckering of the skin
- Swelling, redness or warmth that does not go away
- Pain in one spot that does not vary with your monthly cycle
- Pulling in of the nipple
- Nipple discharge that starts suddenly and appears only in one breast
- An itchy, sore or scaling area on one nipple
Breast Self Examination (BSE)
Prevention and early diagnosis is the best tactic in combating this fatal disease. Breast self examination (BSE) is the best way to detect abnormality of the breast in the early stages. (Full instruction on BSE is available on the Bali Advertiser Website on a previous breast cancer article).
- BSE should be done at the same time each month.
- The best time is a couple of days after the end of your period, when your breasts are less likely to be tender or lumpy from hormone effects.
- If you no longer have periods, choose a day you can remember e.g. the first Monday of each month.
Remember: Only you can do Breast Self-Examination – no one knows your body better than you do. Always consult your doctor if you are concerned about any breast changes. He or she can conduct a thorough manual breast examination, and may recommend a mammogram (breast x-rays), and / or ultrasonic examination. The combination of the methods you use will depend on your age, your medical history and your doctor’s advice.
KNOW YOUR RISK FACTORS
If you have a higher risk factor of developing breast cancer, you should seek professional advise and make absolutely sure that you have professional exams on a regular basis. If you do not fall into any of the increased risk groups, it does not mean that you will never develop breast cancer!
Risk factors increasing the incidence of breast cancer are:
- Risk increases with age, the incidence being highest in the 45 -55 year age group.
- Women who have family that have suffered from breast, ovarian, uterine or prostate cancer are at in increased risk.
- Women of Jewish (Ashkenazi) descent have a two-fold risk.
- Risk is increased in women who have suffered from cancer of the breast, ovaries, or endometrium.
- The risk is increased by factors increasing the number of menstrual cycles, i.e. menstruating at an early age and menopause over 50 years of age, never having children and not breast-feeding.
- Obesity is an increased risk.
- Incidence is increased in the higher socio-economic group.
HELP A SISTER
Living in a place like Bali, awareness and prevention for the local population can be difficult to locate…..so why not help a (local) sister.
Yayasan Rama Sesana is an amazing service mainly for women, is led by women and is mainly staffed by women. They have grown from small beginnings rooted in Bali’s traditional markets and everyone is welcome to attend our clinics. YRS is a non-profit, non-government organization focusing on sexual and reproductive health since 2004. They have a wealth of information for women on breast examination as well as many other aspects of women’s health in Indonesian.
You can help local women by giving them information about these centers, as well as making a donation to the clinic so as they can continue their amazing work.
See more information at www.yrsbali.org/
Kim Patra is a qualified Midwife & Nurse Practioner who has been living and working in Bali for over 30 years. She now runs her own Private Practice & Mothers & Babies center at her Community Health Care office in Sanur.
Copyright © 2018 Kim Patra
You can read all past articles of
Paradise…in Sickness & in Health at www.BaliAdvertiser.biz