According to a Uganda Cancer Institute Report, as of 2020, Breast cancer is the second commonest cancer in Uganda, after Cervical Cancer and Kaposi Sarcoma. Breast cancer was ranked the number six cause of cancer mortality in Uganda, constituting 5.9% of the 22,992 cancer deaths, with a cumulative rate of 1.38. Globally, Breast Cancer is the number one cause of mortality according to the International Agency for Research in Cancer according to the 2020 data.
Women, worldwide are at a risk of contracting it as they age. Research has shown that most breast cancers are found in women who are 50 and above. However, it is important to note that, although the incidence is higher in women above the age of 50, younger women are also being diagnosed with breast cancer.
With early diagnosis of Breast Cancer, the higher the chances of it being successfully treated. Breast cancer is a complex disease and it is believed to be a combination of genetic – BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations, family history, Environmental factors and Lifestyle factors namely hormonal levels, reproductive factors, alcohol consumption, physical inactivity, obesity, diet, previous exposure to ionizing radiation and certain environmental pollutants. It is important to note that these factors can increase the risk of breast cancer, many women who develop breast cancer do not have any of these risk factors, and many women with one or more risk factors do not develop the disease.
We at C-Care encourage women to always perform the monthly self-breast examinations that can be done at the comfort of your home either in the shower or laying down on the bed or in front of your mirror. This could help you detect the early signs of the cancer.
If laying down, Lie down on a flat surface, such as your bed, with a pillow under your right shoulder. Place your right arm behind your head. Use your left hand to feel your right breast. Use the pads of your three middle fingers (index, middle, and ring) to apply gentle, firm pressure in small, circular motions. Cover the entire breast area, moving from the outside to the center. Make sure to examine the entire breast, including the nipple and the area around it. Note any lumps, changes in texture, or unusual sensations. Pay attention to any areas that feel different from the surrounding tissue. Repeat this process for your left breast using your right hand. Feel your underarm area.
Breast tissue extends into the armpit, so check for any lumps or swelling in this region.
If standing or sitting, Stand or sit up straight. Use the same circular motion and finger pressure as in previous steps. Start at the outer edge of your breast and work your way in, covering the entire breast. Remember to examine the nipple and surrounding tissue.
Before one takes that exam however, it is of paramount importance to note that while the exam is important, it should not replace mammograms and professional breast cancer screening tests because many breast cancer symptoms can be missed. By performing these monthly exams, one will only be able to notice any changes in their breasts and hence be able to seek a professional opinion at the earliest possible time.
Important to note also is that not every discoloration, lump, rash or change in the breasts is a symptom of cancer. It is advisable to seek an immediate professional opinion at the nearest healthcare facility or The Uganda Cancer Institute as soon as such a discovery is seen to avoid panic and get immediate medical diagnosis and the right treatment advice.
C-Care Uganda’s contribution to the fight against cancer in Uganda is evidenced in their team of expert oncologists that are well equipped to dispense medical advice at all the C-Care clinics across the country and the well-equipped oncology department at C-Care IHK.
With continued strides in medical research comes hope that the cancer scourge will be conquered with time. In the meantime, we can only do our best to avoid a lifestyle that make us more susceptible, constant check ups and seeking early medical advice whenever there’s suspicion of the cancer in our bodies.
Dr Aleesha Adatia, C-Care IHK In-house Oncologist.