Did you know that one in eight women are diagnosed with breast cancer? Did you also know that the most prevalent type of cancer affecting women around the world is breast cancer? Hence, the world over the month of October is regarded as the Breast Cancer Awareness month.
A pink ribbon is worn during the month of October to denote awareness on breast cancer. October 23rd is considered “Wear It Pink” day in the UK to coincide with the largest breast cancer fundraising event in the UK.
You as an individual or an organization can also designate a day during the month of October to stand in solidarity with women to spread awareness on breast cancer by wearing pink or simply pinning a pink ribbon on your attire.
Breast Cancer in a Nutshell
Like every other cancer, breast cancer too is a result of uncontrolled growth cells. As these cells continue to grow and accumulate more than the normal cells, a noticeable lump or mass is formed in the breast. Breast cancer often begins in the milk producing ducts (invasive ductal carcinoma) but can also begin in the glandular tissues known as globules (invasive lobular carcinoma) and continue to spread into other parts of the body.
- Family history of breast cancer (or other breast related illnesses).
- Inherited genes (BRCA1 or BRCA2).
- Radiation exposure (such as chest x-rays at a very young age).
- Beginning the period at a younger age (before the age of 12).
- Beginning menopause at an older age.
- Having the first child at an older age.
- Never been pregnant.
- Changes in the size or the shape of the breast.
- Irritation of the breast skin.
- Lumps in the breast or underarm (armpit).
- Thickening or inflammation in an area of the breast.
- Pain in any part of the breast.
- Redness or rash-like skin in the nipple area or the breast.
- Discharge from nipples other than breast milk, including blood.
- Nipple retraction or pain in the nipple area.
How to Lower the Risk of Breast Cancer?
- Have an active lifestyle:
It is important to be physically active for at least 2 hours a week, as a moderately energetic lifestyle has been linked to low rates of breast cancer risk.
- Maintain a healthy weight:
Increase in body weight has been linked with a higher risk of breast cancer after menopause. Therefore, it is imperative that you maintain a healthy weight throughout your lifetime.
- Limit alcohol:
As with any other disease or condition, alcohol intake has been linked to increased rates of breast cancer risk.
- Consume organic fruits and vegetables:
Switch from a lifestyle of red meat consumption, to a more organic lifestyle of fruits and vegetables.
- Other factors that reduce risk:
- Breastfeeding for a little bit longer than the usual period has also been linked to a reduction in breast cancer risk.
- Beware that hormone therapy conducted after menopause can increase the risk of breast cancer. Hence, it is better to consult a healthcare provider about non-hormonal options to control menopausal symptoms.
Where Can I Get Breast Cancer Screening in Sri Lanka?
While the number of island wide cancer treatment centers in Sri Lanka are limited, here are a few that are easily accessible:
- National Cancer Institute (free services)
- Asiri Surgical Hospitals
- Hemas Hospital
- Durdans Hospital
- Nawaloka Hospital
- Lanka Hospitals – Women’s Health & Wellness Centre
- Ceylinco Healthcare Centre
- Sri Jayawardenapura General Hospital
- Tellippalai Trail Cancer Hospital (Jaffna)
Breast Cancer in Men
Breast cancer is not just limited to women. Men too are susceptible to this deadly cancer. While the exact cause of breast cancer in men is unclear, there are risk factors that contribute to it. For instance, men who are over the age of 50, are the most vulnerable but young men can be affected as well. Higher levels of estrogen in men caused by liver damage (cirrhosis), obesity, and genetic conditions (Klinefelter’s Syndrome) can also lead to breast cancer. As with women, men too exhibit more or less the same symptoms such as swelling of the breast, flaky skin on the breast, nipple discharge, irritation and tenderness of breast skin, and pain in the nipple area.
Refer these articles for more information:
How Can Technology Help in the Fight Against Breast Cancer?
Smart, A.I. based healthcare information systems can be adopted to understand a patient’s genealogy and forewarn the probability of breast cancer risk to the patient. Through cloud native information systems such as VIDA, patient illness histories and genealogy can be shared with other healthcare providers (& information systems) across the world to track a patient’s health status.
For more information: