October has been declared internationally Breast Cancer Month. Pink Ribbon Day in Australia was on October 24, 2011. Every “pink ribbon” sold helps the National Breast Cancer Foundation fund research into the prevention and cure of breast cancer. This national Breast Cancer day is now in its 19th year and every year more money has been raised, as well as having the highly desirable effect of increasing community awareness of this common and devastating disease.
The National Breast Cancer Foundation is the leading community-funded national organisation in Australia, supporting and promoting research for the prevention and cure of breast cancer. Since its establishment in 1994, over $67 million has been awarded to 256 research projects across Australia to improve the health and well-being of breast cancer victims. Research programs funded by the NBCF cover every aspect of breast cancer, from increasing understanding of genetics to improving ways to support women and their families.
Most of us know someone who has had breast cancer. Some of us may know a woman who has died prematurely from the disease. Some of the readers of this blog may have been diagnosed with the disease and have survived. All women, in theory, are at risk, but at the present time the risk is highest in Western-type, industrialised countries like Australia, USA, Canada, UK and other European countries. Women who have had a long reproductive life are at greater risk, as are women with a history of breast cancer in their family, and childless women, or mothers who have had children late in life. Diet plays a role, with high saturated fat diets with few fresh fruits and vegetables, low in fibre, placing women at higher risk. An Australian woman’s chance of getting breast cancer in her lifetime is on average about 1 in 12.
Most women that present with the cancer feel a lump in their breast. For this reason, women are advised to start doing breast self-examination (BSE) early. By examining her breasts, a woman gets to know how her breasts look and feel. Therefore, she may increase her likelihood of early detection of breast cancer, if it develops. Women are generally advised to do breast self-checks from 20 years of age, once a month. Women who are breast-aware notice suspicious changes to their breasts earlier. It is important to realise that not all breast lumps are cancerous (in fact most are not!) and that breast cancer can also present with other symptoms and not a lump. Older women are advised to have regular mammograms (breast X-ray examinations) in order to catch very small cancers early on.
Fortunately, breast cancer nowadays is a disease with a good prognosis. The earlier the cancer is detected, the greater the chance of long-term survival and cure. A great number of treatments are available and not all breast cancer patients need to have a mastectomy. Prognosis and survival rate varies greatly depending on cancer type, staging and treatment, with the 5-year relative survival rate varying from 98% to 23%, with an overall survival rate of 85%.
If you suspect that there is something abnormal in your breasts, do not delay but go and see your doctor immediately. It is better to err on the side of safety. More information is available online from a number of reputable websites, as for example:
cancer |ˈkansər| noun
The disease caused by an uncontrolled division of abnormal cells in a part of the body: He's got cancer | Smoking is the major cause of lung cancer.
• A malignant growth or tumour resulting from such a division of cells: Most skin cancers are curable.
• A practice or phenomenon perceived to be evil or destructive and hard to contain or eradicate: Racism is a cancer sweeping across Europe. DERIVATIVES cancerous |ˈkansərəs| adjective ORIGIN: Old English, from Latin, ‘crab or creeping ulcer,’ translating Greek karkinos, said to have been applied to such tumours because the swollen veins around them resembled the limbs of a crab. canker was the usual form until the 17th century.
I have been blogging daily on this platform for several years now. It is surprising that I have persisted as the world is changing and "microblogging" is now the norm. I blog to amuse myself, make comment on current affairs, externalise some of my creativity, keep notes on things that interest me, learn something new and to surprise myself with things that I discover about this wonderful, and sometimes crazy, world we live in.
I sometimes get the impression that I am on a soapbox delivering a monologue, so your comments are welcome.