THE HEALTH HUB -- The Lowdown on Breast Cancer; No it's not an Old woman’s disease, and males can get it too.

The Lowdown on Breast Cancer; No it's not an Old woman’s disease, and males can get it too. 

Happy New Month, and Welcome to October! This month is one awesome month because all over the world, it has been set aside for creating awareness about breast cancer, in a bid to lessen the number of deaths from breast cancer a year. The Health Hub is taking this initiative up fully, and will throughout the month bring you a series of educational posts on this menace which is claiming the lives of peoples mothers,sisters, wives and daughters, so you can be in the know, and not be found wanting. 

In the year 2012, figures released by the World Health Organization (WHO) stated that a total of 2,000 Ghanaian women were diagnosed of breast cancer in the year 2012. 1,000 of those women, essentially half of them died of the disease. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in Ghana, with about almost 3000+ cases being diagnosed annually. 

You may be wondering why a segment targeted at the youth will be focusing so much attention on breast cancer. Well, contrary to popular belief Breast cancer is not an “old woman's disease”. In a study done recently, it was found out that 5% of all breast cancers diagnosed were in women between the ages of 20 and 39, and that Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer for women aged 20-39 years.

Breast cancers in young women have different characteristics and poorer survival outcomes compared with older women. They face unique medical and psychosocial challenges, including premature menopause, fertility and sexuality issues.

Note that having family members who have had or have breast cancer puts you at risk the more, and also the disease is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in black women, rates are much higher than in white women.

To the guys who think breast cancer is a woman's problem only, it's not. Yes, Breast cancer occurs mostly in women, but men can get breast cancer, too, because they have a small amount of breast tissue. It was actually thought that breast cancer in men was more severe than it was in women, mostly because most men are unaware it can affect them too and so they detect it very late. Males with a relative with breast cancer, and those with abnormal enlargement of their breast known as gynecomastia are highly at risk.

Breast cancer basically starts when cells in the breast begin to grow out of control. These cells usually form a tumor that can often be seen on an x-ray or felt as a lump. The tumor is malignant or cancerous if the cells can invade surrounding tissues or spread (metastasize) to distant areas of the body.

Not all breast tumors are cancerous, some are benign. Non-cancerous breast tumors are abnormal growths, that do not spread outside of the breast and are not life threatening. Note though, that some benign breast lumps can increase risk of getting breast cancer. Any breast lump or change noticed in your breast needs to be checked by a healthcare professional to determine if it is benign or malignant (cancer) and if it might affect your future cancer risk.

The key thing to note is that, the earlier a breast cancer is detected and diagnosed, the better the outcome. Most women only realize when it's too late, and the cancer has already spread to other organs. At that point, there's really nothing that can be done. That is why #EARLY DETECTION continues to be the major focus in fighting breast cancer.
From time to time, you must pay a visit to the doctor for a thorough breast cancer workup and screening. You can also perform breast examinations on your own periodically, because you know your breasts best. (I will show you how next week.)

For older women especially, a six-monthly visit to the doctor for this purpose is advised. Please lets encourage our mothers, sisters, grandmothers, daughters and wives to do so. The males must also pay particular attention in that regard. Remember!! Early detection is associated with better prognosis(outcome) and decreased rate of deaths. Early detection of breast cancer could save your life! 

Next week, we will look at how to properly perform a breast self examination, and the symptoms to look out for, all in aid of promoting #Early Detection! 

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