Breast Cancer Awareness

Breast cancer is a critical health issue affecting millions of women worldwide. October is observed as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a time dedicated to increasing awareness about this disease.

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Breast cancer is characterised by the uncontrolled growth of cells in the breast tissue, often forming a lump or tumour. Early detection is crucial for effective treatment, which is why awareness campaigns, fundraisers, and events take centre stage during this month.

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This article aims to shed light on the importance of Breast Cancer Awareness, its significance in promoting early detection, and all other important details.

Types of Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is further categorised into multiple segments. In this section, we have discussed the most four common types that are seen among women across the world including the UAE -

  • Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS) - DCIS is a non-invasive breast cancer where abnormal cells are found in the milk ducts but have not spread into nearby tissues.
  • Invasive Lobular Carcinoma (ILC) - Invasive Lobular Carcinoma is a type of breast cancer that starts in the milk-producing lobules and can invade surrounding breast tissues.
  • Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (IDC) - Originating in the milk ducts and often spreading to nearby areas, this is the most common type of breast cancer.
  • Lobular Carcinoma in Situ (LCIS) - Lobular Carcinoma in Situ is a non-invasive condition where abnormal cells are present in the lobules of the breast but have not spread beyond that area.

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What are the Breast Cancer Symptoms?

Each woman may develop and experience different symptoms of breast cancer. However, you can refer to the most usual symptoms of breast cancer below -

  • Formation and thickening of breast lump or tissue — it often feels different from the surrounding tissue
  • Pain in the breast
  • Nipple discharge besides breast milk
  • Blood discharge from the nipple
  • Pitted, discoloured, or red skin on the breast
  • Complete swelling of the breast or swelling in some breast parts
  • Inverted nipple
  • Swelling or formation of lump on underarms
  • Changes in the appearance of breast skin
  • Unusual and sudden changes in the shape and size of the breast
  • Flaking, scaling, or peeling of breast or nipple skin

How to Do Breast Self-Examination at Home?

A self-examination of the breast is an effective way to identify the possibility of breast cancer and make an early detection. As per experts, it is advisable for women to perform this check on a monthly basis.

Let’s see how to check breasts for any inner lump or tissue formation -

Check in Front of Your Mirror

Keep your arms on the sides and analyse your breasts carefully. Visually examine for any changes in the shape and size of both breasts. Apart from this, make sure to see if there is a formation of lumps, swellings, or other irregularities on the breast and nipple skin.

By Lying Down

Your breast tissue spreads evenly across the chest wall when you lie down. Take your three middle fingers and start checking the opposite breast, i.e. use your right hand to evaluate your left breast. With light, medium, and firm pressure, see if you feel any lump, knots, or hardened parts on and around the breast and armpit area. 

Additionally, press your nipple to check for discharge, if any. Perform the same activity on another breast.

While Showering

Use the pads of your three fingers (Index, Middle, and Ring) to check the armpit and breasts. Press these areas gently and with firm pressure to see if you feel any lump formation. Also, check for any hardened area on and around the breast and armpit area.

Note: Although it’s important to do a self-analysation of breasts at home, keep in mind that it may not be sufficient in itself. You must not ignore the need for doctor consultation.

What are the Primary Causes of Breast Cancer in the UAE?

According to researchers and health experts, there is a multitude of factors that increase breast cancer risk. These include environmental, lifestyle, and hormonal aspects. Regular lifestyle habits such as consumption of alcohol, and insufficient physical activity can increase the risk of breast cancer. Apart from these, even being overweight or obese leads to breast cancer. It is yet to be identified as to why women get diagnosed with the disease even when they do not possess any risk factors.

Risk Factors Associated with Breast Cancer

It’s worth mentioning that not everyone who possesses breast cancer risk factors will necessarily develop the health condition. In fact, women are also likely to have breast cancer even if there are no risk factors.

With that said, here are some of the common risk factors of breast cancer seen in Emirati women:

  • Family History of Ovarian or Breast Cancer - If any of the first-degree relatives of a woman or her parents’ side female family members have a previous history of breast cancer, then there are higher risks of getting diagnosed with breast cancer.
  • Having Dense Breast - Women having dense breasts have more connective tissue rather than fatty tissues, which increases the chances of breast cancer. In fact, this condition also makes it difficult to view tumours on a mammogram. 
  • Genetic Mutations - There is a probability that gene mutations that risk breast cancer may be inherited from parents to their children. Two of the most common mutations are BRCA1 and BRCA2.
  • Ageing - The chance of developing breast cancer increases with age. As women start ageing and reach their 50s, they are more likely to get diagnosed with the disease.
  • Reproductive History - Women who start their menstruation before the age of 12 years and menopause after 55 years are likely to be exposed to hormones for a long period. This can raise the chances of developing breast cancer.
  • Former Treatments Using Radiation Therapy - As per studies and medical cases observed for years, women who have had radiation therapy treatment on their chest or breasts before turning 30 years old are prone to breast cancer in the later stage.

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Why is Regular Women's Body Health Check Necessary?

Regular health check-ups are essential for women, especially in terms of breast cancer risk and awareness. While breast cancer is the most common cancer among women worldwide, early detection can significantly improve treatment outcomes. 

Here are some compelling reasons for regular check-ups:

  • Early Detection: Routine breast exams, mammograms, and clinical screenings can identify abnormalities or lumps in the breast tissue at an early, more treatable stage, potentially saving lives.
  • Risk Assessment: Regular check-ups allow healthcare providers to assess a woman's individual risk factors for breast cancer. This assessment helps tailor a personalised prevention and screening plan.
  • Awareness: Health check-ups also play a crucial role in creating awareness about breast cancer. They educate women about the importance of self-exams and recognising changes in their breast tissue.
  • Education: During check-ups, healthcare professionals can educate women about breast health, risk factors, and lifestyle modifications that can reduce the risk of developing breast cancer.
  • Emotional Support: Facing the fear of breast cancer can be daunting. Regular check-ups offer emotional support, as women can discuss concerns and receive guidance from healthcare providers.
  • Treatment Planning: If breast cancer is detected, early intervention provides more treatment options and a better chance of successful outcomes.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month serves as a crucial reminder of the importance of early detection and prevention in the fight against breast cancer. In the UAE, this annual observance has played a significant role in raising awareness about the disease, promoting regular screenings, and providing support to those affected.

It is crucial that we continue to educate ourselves and our communities about breast cancer, fostering a culture of awareness and proactive healthcare. By coming together to support research, treatment, and advocacy efforts, we can make strides toward a future where breast cancer is not just treatable but preventable, saving countless lives in the process.

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