Moving Forward by Deivid Rioferio

Breast Cancer occurs in both men and women; Early detection increases chances of successful treatment

Breast Cancer occurs in both men and women; Early detection increases chances of successful treatment

In a lay forum for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Dr. Gemma Patricia Tacaca-Astorga shared that this disease, which is caused by the formation of malignant cancer cells in breast tissues, forms 17.7% or 27,163 out of 153,751 total number of new cancer cases for both men and women in all ages in 2020.

Organized by Pope John Paul II Hospital and Medical Center along with a medical mission led by Dr. Jacklyn M. So-Cabahug, the event underscored Caring Beyond Measure.

Today in the country, the breast ranks as the top cancer site as reported the Philippine Cancer Society.

According to the World Health Organization “Early detection of cancer greatly increases the chances for successful treatment”.


Symptoms of Breast Cancer

Presented during the forum are some of the following symptoms of Breast Cancer:

  • A lump in the breast (important to remember that all lumps should be investigated by a healthcare professional, but not all lumps are cancerous);
  • Nipple tenderness or a lump or thickening in or near the breast or underarm area;
  • Nipple that is turned slightly inward or inverted;
  • Nipple discharge, clear, bloody or milky;
  • A change in the skin texture or an enlargement of pores in the skin of the breast (some describe this as similar to an orange peel’s texture);
  • Any unexplained change in the size or shape of the breast;
  • Unexplained swelling of the breast (especially if on one side only);
  • Unexplained shrinkage of the breast (especially if on one side only);
  • Recent asymmetry (unequal or lack of sameness) of the breasts;

She added that breast pain usually is not a sign of cancer but as in all cases, it will still be best to consult a doctor.


Self Breast Exam

Johns Hopkins Medical center states that “Forty percent of diagnosed Breast Cancers are detected by women who feel a lump, so establishing a regular breast self-exam is very important.”

Dr. Tacaca-Astorga encouraged adult women of all ages to perform breast self-exams at least once a month. Here are the steps on how do it:

In the shower:

  • With the pads/flats of your 3 middle fingers, check the entire breast and armpit area pressing down with light, medium, and firm pressure;
  • Check both breasts each month feeling for any lump, thickening, hardened knot, or any other breast changes.

In Front of a Mirror:

  • Visually inspect your breasts with your arms at your sides;
  • Next, raise your arms high overhead;
  • Look for any changes in the contour, any swelling, or dimpling of the skin, or changes in the nipples;
  • Next, rest your palms on your hips and press firmly to flex your chest muscles;
  • Left and right breasts will not exactly match—few women’s breasts do, so look for any dimpling, puckering, or changes, particularly on one side.

Lying Down:

  • When lying down, the breast tissue spreads out evenly along the chest wall;
  • Place a pillow under your right shoulder and your right arm behind your head;
  • Using your left hand, move the pads of your fingers around your right breast gently covering the entire breast area and armpit;
  • Use light, medium, and firm pressure. Squeeze the nipple; check for discharge and lumps;
  • Repeat these steps for your left breast.

Tests supervised by a doctor include mammogram, clinical breast exam, magnetic resonance imaging, breast biopsy and other laboratory tests.


Moving Forward

Equally important to taking essential steps to early detection is reducing the risk of breast cancer by keeping a healthy lifestyle. This includes maintaining a healthy weight, staying physically active, eating fruits and vegetables, refraining from smoking and eliminating alcohol consumption.

We owe it to not only to ourselves but also to our family and loved ones to live healthy and to live long.

Source: Photo from World Health Organization Philippines

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