October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month worldwide, and we bring you the need-to-know tips towards early detection that could save your life, with the help of Frincy Francis and Sheeba Elizabeth John from the Sultan Qaboos University College of Nursing.
Current global statistics related to breast cancer are on the rise – and Oman is no exception.
One in four women becomes prey to cancer irrespective of their race, culture or ethnicity, accounting to 14 per cent of all cancer-related deaths.
A recent survey reported a disturbing pattern of incidences of breast cancer in Middle Eastern countries and especially among Arab women.
As of now, there’s still an increased need for awareness – and it has been a challenge for health professionals to convince Omanis of the necessity for screening and early detection.
Here are some points to remember during this month of awareness:
Weight gain has been linked to an increase in breast tissue, resulting in a higher risk of breast cancer. A focus on eating a healthy, plant-based diet may help to reduce this risk. Regular exercise to help curb weight gain is key, and 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week is essential to overall health.
TLC (Touch – Look- Check) Technique:
As women, we know our bodies best – and most times we sense the slightest change if something is not right.
• Touch and feel – Knowing the steps to perform an at-home breast self-examination to feel for a mass using finger-pads could begin as early as the age of 20.
• Look out for symptoms – Identifying visible symptoms like peau d’orange (skin with the appearance and dimpled texture of an orange peel), abnormal secretions, changes in the shape of the breast, and pain at a localised point means you should see the doctor..
• Check with a doctor – Your healthcare provider may collect firsthand information from you to identify any risk factors. She will also perform a clinical breast examination and recommend advanced screening techniques such as a mammogram.
• Know your body – Activity classes that teach anatomy and the signs and symptoms of breast cancer, along with steps for self-examination, could be a good introduction for girls in high school or college classes.
• ‘Pink’ birthdays – Organise peer events with friends and family that celebrate the birthdays of breast cancer survivors where they can interact with other women and spread a message of awareness and motivation for a better quality of life for those affected.
• WhatsApp reinforcement – Social media is a huge motivating factor for younger generations of girls and young women. Forming a WhatsApp or other social media group with female family members or friends can create a safe space to share educational resources and instill awareness about breast cancer. This can influence young women who, in turn, become messengers of awareness to their mothers, aunts, and sisters.
Every small attempt towards health promotion and disease prevention will have a big impact in the long run in the global fight against breast cancer. We hope this October, you’ll do more than just wear pink.