Every year, thousands of new cases of breast cancer are discovered in Brazil. The estimate for 2016 was 57,960 new cases of the disease in the country, with 99% of cases affecting women. The numbers are frightening and the reality is harsh, but there are still reasons to be optimistic.
The chances of cure for cases discovered early are on average 88.3% and approximately 30% of cases can be avoided with healthy habits. A balanced diet and regular physical activity are key factors to protect against any type of cancer. Excess abdominal fat is also another risk factor that increases the risk of developing the disease by 74%.
Fortunately, with each passing year, actions aimed at raising awareness of this type of cancer increase. In the United States, the Pink October campaign has existed since 1990 and in Brazil the actions began to be carried out in 2002. These initiatives are important to warn about the dangers, encourage self-examination and bring together people who have already had the problem, creating communities and ties with institutions that promote research and collect donations.
It is worth remembering once again that the earlier the disease is detected, the greater the chances of cure. Knowing how to perform self-examination and being aware of what actions can reduce the risks of developing this type of cancer are fundamental practices. And that’s exactly why awareness and education are so important.
10 things you need to know about breast cancer
We have access to a lot of information all the time that can freak us out for no reason. Are they all true? Be aware of the myths and truths about breast cancer that we hear out there:
Being well informed and aware about anything is the first step to avoid further concerns, especially when dealing with a matter as serious as breast cancer.
12 telltale signs of breast cancer
Mammography is, without a doubt, the safest method to know if there is the presence of nodules that can be malignant. However, there are some signs that can indicate if there is something wrong with your breasts. The organization Worldwide Breast Cancer listed the 12 common symptoms that manifest in breast cancer patients. Check out:
- Thick skin and presence of lumps: If you notice that your skin is thicker and you can feel a lump, be aware. It may just be a feature of your period or breastfeeding, but if they remain or increase, see a doctor.
- Dimples in the breasts: “Dimples” in the breasts are another sign to pay attention to. They can appear during the menstrual period or when we wear very tight clothes. If they persist longer, it could be a sign of breast cancer.
- Rough looking nipples and areolas: Paget’s disease is a type of cancer that affects the nipples and areolas. It is characterized by a crust and a rough, rough appearance in these regions. In some cases there may also be bloody discharge. These symptoms may indicate breast cancer.
- Red and hot breasts: This is normal when breastfeeding, but in other situations it is worrying. Inflammatory breast cancer has these characteristics, as it hinders the flow of blood in the region.
- Secretions: Watery, milky and even bloody fluids are common when the breasts are developing and especially during breastfeeding. If your breasts expel any secretion and you are not experiencing any of these situations, stay tuned and see a doctor.
- Skin sores: Wounds are not always a sign of breast cancer, but they always deserve attention. If they start to grow and smell bad, see a doctor you trust.
- Elevated lumps: Some lumps may appear on the surface of the skin and, as they grow, they become visible on the breasts. It is important to remember that not every lump means a malignant tumor, but only a doctor can give the correct diagnosis.
- Retracted nipple: Some people already have their nipples inward by nature. If that’s the case for you, then there’s no need to worry. If you notice that your nipples are taking that shape, pay attention.
- Enlarging veins: Swollen veins in the breasts can be an indication of tumors. Usually, tumors require blood to be pumped to them, which increases the volume of blood in the veins.
- Change in shape or size: Any change in shape or size in the breasts outside of breastfeeding is a cause for concern. If these changes also persist outside of your period, it’s best to see a doctor.
- Orange Peel Appearance: Swollen breasts and several small dimples with a cellulite appearance can be an indication of breast cancer. As blood flow becomes irregular, skin cells can undergo these changes.
- Lumps: The most common sign of a breast tumor is a lump. It can be small or big, but it always deserves your attention. If you find any kind of lump in your breasts, see a doctor.
It is worth emphasizing that many of the symptoms may appear and are not linked to breast cancer. Seek medical help if one or more signs recur.
How the diagnosis is made
For a safe diagnosis, some steps are necessary so that the indicated treatment is the most appropriate and efficient. Check out the diagnosis step by step:
According to Dr. Livia Daia, gynecologist and mastologist, the Brazilian Society of Mastology recommends that mammography should be performed annually in women over 40 years old without a family history of breast cancer. With the exam, possible lesions can be detected, such as lumps with irregular aspects or clustered microcalcifications, which may be signs of breast cancer.
After that, a biopsy is performed, which consists of removing a small piece of the lesion to have a correct diagnosis. If the biopsy results are positive for cancer, doctors study the profile of the cancer to indicate the appropriate treatment, which can be started with surgery to remove the tumor or with chemotherapy.
Seeing a doctor soon after finding any irregularity with the breasts is essential. The later the diagnosis, the lower the chances of cure.
And how can you prevent yourself?
According to data from the International Agency for Research on Cancer, 30% of cases can be avoided with healthy habits, such as regular physical activity and a balanced diet. In addition, women of all ages should perform a self-exam once a month outside of their period. Dr. Livia Daia says that it can cause some discomfort and give the false sensation of lumps, but it is extremely important.
In addition to performing the self-exam by feeling your breasts, pay special attention to your breasts. Any change that is strange can be indicative of more serious problems. Look at yourself more in the mirror, knowing your own body is fundamental.
Mammography, especially after age 40, is mandatory. Self-examination is essential, but it only detects nodules measuring at least 1 centimeter, which may indicate a more advanced stage of the disease. If the lump is very small, only a mammogram can identify it. It is common to say that mammography hurts, which is not true. It can cause discomfort that is necessary to take care of the health of your breasts. Think about it!
Here’s how to do the self-exam in the bath:
Take a few minutes from the bath to take care of the health of your breasts. It’s fast, simple, easy and essential for your health.
Do you know your risk of developing breast cancer?
Although breast cancer is a disease that can affect anyone, there are some factors that increase the risk and also some that can help prevent it. Check your risk of developing breast cancer:
The Pink October campaign brings several actions that help prevent the disease and welcome people who are going through this moment or who have already healed. Publicizing the campaign gives strength to the movement and brings information that can save lives to more and more people.
The information contained on this page is for informational purposes only. They do not replace the advice and follow-up of doctors, nutritionists, psychologists, physical education professionals and other specialists.
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