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RO9 BreastCancerBreast Cancer is strikingly the leading type of cancer worldwide. Anyone can suffer from this either young or old, rich or poor, with family history or not, women and even men, and that may include you. Breast cancer if early detected may be cured. Therefore, it is very important that everyone, most especially women, should be aware of the screening methods for breast cancer and to regularly practice them. Hence, every month of October is celebrated as Breast Cancer Awareness Month worldwide that aims to increase awareness and support for early detection, treatment and palliative care of the disease.

According to the 2015 Philippine Cancer Facts and Estimates, breast cancer is the most common cancer with 22,267 cases and ranked 3rd among the leading causes of cancer-related deaths among Filipinos next to lung and liver cancer. Presently, there is no adequate information on the causes of breast cancer but early detection of the disease remains the foundation to control and prevent it.  With available and adequate diagnosis and treatment, there is a high possibility that  cancer will be cured. As part of the response to this public health concern, the Department of Health (DOH) established the Breast Cancer Medicines Access Program in 2011 in seven (7) access sites in the Philippines and in 2018, access to breast cancer medicines was expanded to another 7 health institutions including Zamboanga City Medical Center in the Zamboanga Peninsula.

Each person has different symptoms of breast cancer. Some do not even have signs or symptoms at all. Common warning signs for breast cancer that you need to be aware of are lumps on the breast or underarm, swelling part of the breast, irritation of the breast skin, redness or flaky skin in the nipple area, nipple discharge other than breast milk including blood, pain and change of size of the breast. Be mindful that these symptoms can happen with other conditions that are not cancerous, so it is best to consult a physician if any of these are observed.

With this, women are encouraged to have a regular breast screening to help early detection of the disease for easier treatment. A mammogram is one way to screen for breast cancer before it’s too late. You may also perform a breast self-examination at least once a month to help you detect of any changes on your breasts.

The following are 5 steps to do breast self-examination:

Step 1: Start by looking at your breasts in the mirror with your shoulders straight and your arms on your hips. Look for usual size, shape and color of your breast and check if your breasts are evenly shaped without distortion or swelling.

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

Step 3: While you are 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).

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.

Step 5: Finally, feel your breasts while you are standing or sitting. You can also do these steps while in the shower.

There is nothing to be afraid of. Start doing a breast self-examination now or inquire for a breast cancer screening. Together, we can beat breast cancer if we will start with its early detection today.

 

NO I Angelica O. Pajulas

 

References:

https://www.who.int/cancer/events/breast_cancer_month/en/

https://www.doh.gov.ph/node/15696

https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/breast/basic_info/screening.htm

https://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/testing/types/self_exam