The designation of October as “Breast Cancer Awareness Month” in South Africa reflects a nationwide drive by public and private healthcare structures to raise awareness of this debilitating disease across all races and class structures.
The incidence of breast cancer among South African women is increasing and it is one of the most common cancers among women in South Africa. It is the most prevalent cancer amongst white and Asian women and the second most common cancer among black and coloured women.
Approximately 11 patients are diagnosed with breast cancer every week at Tygerberg Hospital. Between 15 and 25 new breast cancer patients are diagnosed every week at Groote Schuur Hospital (GSH). At GSH Walk-in Breast Clinic saw a 10% increase in patients diagnosed with breast cancer during the 2018/2019 period.
Early detection and self-examination are vital
For women, monthly breast self-examination is an important screening method. Women over the age of 45 should consider going for a regular mammogram. Younger women have denser breast tissue and would benefit more from an ultrasound examination than a mammogram.
Family history plays an important role in determining how prone someone is to developing cancer. This is especially true for immediate family members (mom or sister) who were diagnosed at a relatively young age. Be sure to discuss all these issues and concerns with your doctor.
It’s also important for you to know what’s normal for your body and to be aware of symptoms of cancer, as early detection improves the chances of successful treatment. We suggested that you do a simple monthly breast self-exam to check your own breasts for lumps or anything that seems unusual.
Male breast cancer
Many men don’t know they can get breast cancer. They may not notice a change or think it’s important and may be embarrassed to say anything. This can delay diagnosis. As a result, breast cancers may be found later in men. The male breast is much smaller than the female breast – this makes it more likely that cancer will spread to the chest wall. Finding breast cancer early can improve survival.
Facts about breast cancer
You can also get involved through these organisations:
CANSA places the focus on women reducing their cancer risk during October. For more information on how you can get involved visit www.cansa.org.za
South Africa´s best-loved Breast Cancer Community Carer, PinkDrive is the indispensable, tangible breast cancer Public Benefit Organisation (PBO) powering South Africa´s first mobile PinkDrive Mammography Unit and PinkDrive Educational Unit through our country, driving home the fact that `Early Detection Saves Lives´. For more information on how you can get involved visit their website at www.pinkdrive.co.za
Time is shortening. But every day that I challenge this cancer and survive is a victory for me Ingrid Bergman