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Friday, June 21, 2024

Breast cancer: Early detection for your protection

Breast cancer: Early detection for your protection

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Worldwide, breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed life-threatening cancer in women. In many less-developed countries, it is the leading cause of cancer death in women. The Gambia recently have seen an alarming rise in breast cancer cases, claiming the lives of many (together with cervical cancer). You might be wondering what breast cancer is.

Breast cancer is characterized by abnormal growth of cell in the breast.  Breast cancers do not always present with symptoms, some women may have cancers that are so small that they do not produce masses that they can’t be felt or cause other recognizable changes in the breast. Most breast cancers are malignant tumors. Most of them originate within the cells located in the lobules which are the milk-producing glands of the breast. However, they can also originate from the ducts which are passageways between the lobules and the nipples where the milk is drained. Other comparatively rare, cancerous cells have also been found to originate in the stromal tissue which includes the fatty and fibrous tissues of the breast. Some of the cancer are invasive and others are not but if a lump is discovered, a doctor should be consulted immediately so that diagnosis and treatment can commence as soon as possible.  Some examples of breast cancer are inflammatory breast cancer, Paget’s disease of the breast, phyllodes tumors etc. benign breast conditions are mastitis (that’s just an inflammation of the breast and can be due to an infection) and fibroadenoma.

Signs and symptoms;

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·           Presence of lump or mass in the breast, more than 80% are discovered when a woman feels a lump.

·           Nipple discharge or redness

·           Changes in skin color such as puckering or dimpling and swelling of part of the breast.

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·           Change in position of the nipple

·           Breast pain, changes in size and shape of the breast.

·           Swollen lymph nodes in the neck and armpit region are added symptoms it

Early detection can help prevent or increase survival rate. How can one detect breast cancer?


·           Breast self-examination.

·           Clinical breast examination

·           Mammography

·           Ultrasonography

·           Magnetic resonance imaging.

·           Needle biopsy


·           Surgery (massectomy partial or radial, lumpectomy, reconstruction

·           Radiotherapy

·           Chemotherapy

·           Sometimes hormonal therapy

Risk factors

·           Age and sex; increasing age and female sex are established risk factors for breast cancer. Sporadic breast cancer is relatively uncommon among women younger than 40 years but increases significantly thereafter.

·           Alcohol consumption and smoking

·           Genetic (BRCA gene mutation)

·           High levels of certain hormones

·           Not having children and not breastfeeding

·           Dietary pattern

·           Diabetes mellitus

·           Obesity


“I’m a man and I can’t have breast cancer”

Men can develop breast cancer too although it is more likely in women. One man in every thousand have breast cancer in his lifetime.

“There is no history of breast cancer in my family, we can’t have it”

Breast cancer can also development from lifestyle and environmental factors too.

“Breast cancer can affect only women of 45 and above”

About 14,000 women under the age of 45 are diagnose with breast cancer each year.

“Having lump in the breast can only mean cancer”

About 80% of lumps found in the breast are benign or non cancerous, some maybe cysts. Unless confirm by health care personals by doing proper screening one can’t conclude they have cancer.

Early detection can help save lives; you can do an examination on your breast at home by following these steps:

Lie down on your back with a pillow under your right shoulder;

Use the pads of the three middle fingers on your left hand to check your right breast;

Press using light, medium and firm pressure in a circle without lifting your fingers off the skin;

Follow an up-and-down pattern;

Feel for changes in your breast, above and below your collarbone and in your armpit;

Repeat on your left breast using your right hand.

To all the fighters, you’re not alone. We are in this together, we can conquer it. You’re brave, you’re strong and you’re beautiful. Keep fighting. Together we can fight breast can. Please report any unusual changes you might feel in your breast to any health care center, early detection is important. We stand in support of all those fighting against breast cancer.



Thank you.

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