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Breast Cancer



Frequently Asked Questions

By www.askadoc.co.ke



1.    What is breast Cancer?
Breast cancer is a cancer that develops in the cells of the breast in women and men.
Women are at more risk than men of developing breast cancer and the risk increases with age.
1% of patients are male

2.    How common is breast cancer?

Breast cancer is the second frequently diagnosed form of cancer among women in Kenya. The most common female cancer in Kenya is cervical cancer. In developing countries like Kenya, breast cancer affects younger women than in developing countries.
Between the years 2000 and 2002, breast cancer was the most diagnosed cancer among women in Nairobi and 51% of them were below 50years.

3.    Can breast cancer be cured?
Contrary to common belief, breast cancer is a curable disease with early diagnosis and management being key. For this reason it is important and possibly life saving for every woman to know how to perform a proper self breast examination.

4.    What puts me at risk of getting breast cancer?

The chances of getting breast cancer increases throughout a woman’s lifetime.

Family History
Breast cancer is more likely to affect women who have a first degree relative with the disease e.g. mother or aunt. This is because they have genes (called BRCA1 and BRCA2) that make them susceptible to getting breast cancer.

It has been shown that there is a link between the incidence of breast cancer and alcohol intake, High-fat diet and obesity in women.

Hormonal effects
It has been shown that there is a link between the incidence of breast cancer and:
.Not having ever been pregnant
.Having a first birth late in life,
.Early first menstrual period
.Late menopause.

The reason for this is thought to be due to the long exposure to female hormones without the break during pregnancy and breast feeding.

5.    Can contraceptive pills cause breast cancer?

Contraceptive pills are associated with a very small increase in risk of getting breast cancer. Their benefits outweigh the risk.

6.    How can I check if I have breast cancer?
One of the most simple ways is to carry out a breast self examination. This is an ongoing process when a woman gets to familiarize themselves with their breasts. In this way a woman can detect any change in the breast.

7.    When is the best time to examine my breasts for breast cancer?
It is preferably done once a month after your menstrual periods when the breasts are less tender and less swollen.

8.    What should I look for when doing a self breast examination for breast cancer?
You will be looking for a warning signs that may include:
•    Any change in breast shape and symmetry
•    Redness or dimpling of the skin.
•    Nipple retraction.
•    Persistent breast pain.
•    Nipple discharge that is clear or bloody.
•    Hardening of the breast tissue on one side.
•    Suspicious lumps.

9.    How do I do a self breast examination to look for breast cancer?

The aim is to look for the warning signs.
Its best done in front of a mirror with your breasts fully exposed.
•    Without holding the breasts look for warning signs.
•    Put the right hand on your head.
•    Use your left hand to feel the right breast using the palms of the fingers to make circular motions on the entire breast in a clockwise pattern moving outwards from the nipple.
•    Feel for any unusual lumps in the right arm pit.
•    Repeat the same procedure for the left breast and arm pit with the left breast on the head.

10.    I have a lump in my breast and am worried that it could be cancer. Are all breast lumps cancer?

No. Majority of breast lumps are not cancerous. But if you notice a lump please visit your Doctor to check for any signs of cancer.

11.    Do anti antiperspirants cause breast cancer?

No. There has been no evidence so far to link breast cancer and the use of anti antiperspirants.

12.    My breasts are small, does that mean I cannot get breast cancer?
Women with small breasts are at the same risk as women with larger breasts to getting breast cancer.

13.    I am 16 years old, am I too young to get breast cancer?
Breast cancer can occur at any age but rarely below the age of 20.The chances of getting breast cancer increases with advancing age.

14.    If I am found to have breast cancer what will happen?
The treatment of breast cancer will depend on the stage/severity of the disease.
The earlier the breast cancer is found the better the outcome of the treatment.
The treatment of breast cancer involves a team of doctors who will take care of different aspects of the disease. The team will generally involve:
•    A breast surgeon,
•    A cancer specialist (oncologist)
•    A pathologist
•    A radiologist
•    A plastic surgeon
•    A counselor
•    A breast care nurse

15.    What is a mammography?

This is a specialized X-ray of the breast. The detail obtained is finer than on a conventional X-ray and it lets the specialist doctor (radiologist) detect breast cancer in its very early stages
(Even before it can be felt), when chances of cure are highest.
It is recommended for women aged 40 to 69 years.
For women below 40 years of age are recommended to do an ultra sound of the breast.

16.    Can a mammography cause breast cancer?
Modern mammography equipment works with very low doses of radiation. The benefits of screening for breast cancer far outweigh any risk of harm from the X-ray. In many cases,
Cancer can be detected up to three years earlier than by physical examination. It is therefore recommended for women aged between 40 to 69 years.

17.    How regularly should I have a mammography done?
The intervals of doing mammograms (the picture gotten from the mammography) ranges between one and two years, as per the doctor’s advice.

Last Updated on Friday, 02 September 2011 14:36

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