October ends in a few days, which means that another month of raising awareness on breast cancer is coming to a full circle. But this doesn’t mean that breast cancer awareness and prevention efforts are ending, waiting another 365 days before campaigning for disease prevention.
Breast cancer is a disease that is caused by breast cells growing abnormally. Because of this, the cells that are growing can form into lumps or masses that can be malignant (cancerous) and sometimes spread to other body parts. (Read: 3 Pinay Celebs Who Survived Breast Cancer, Support Awareness)
Such risks are the reason why raising awareness of breast cancer and its prevention is a year-round movement. Women are encouraged to make themselves well-informed on what the disease is and what they can do to hopefully prevent themselves from developing cancer.
Breast Cancer in the Philippines
In Asia, the Philippines has the highest breast cancer incidence based on 2018 data. Breast cancer accounts for 17 percent of all cancer cases—for both sexes—in the country, and around eight percent for cancer deaths. (Read: How This Woman Copes With Her Lung Disease, One Grateful Day at a Time)
As for Filipino women, there are three out of 100 women who develop the disease before age 75, and one out of 100 will succumb to the disease before they even reach 75 years old.
While these statistics may sound scary, we can still defy the numbers and help ourselves from developing the deadly disease. (Read: 4 Tea Flavors for Different Health Needs)
The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends a few practical ways to prevent breast cancer. And while these will not fully prevent us from contracting the disease, making these a habit can still help one maintain a healthy body and have a lower risk of having breast cancer.
Tips to Prevent Breast Cancer: Know Your Risk
Some women have a higher risk of developing breast cancer than others. These women usually inherit a mutated gene that has been passed on from a parent. Moreover, women who have a close relative (parent, sibling, child) that had or has breast cancer also have an increased risk for developing the disease.
In order to determine whether or not an individual has the gene, a genetic testing can be done. Doctors can also help with a prevention plan for those at a higher risk.
Tips to Prevent Breast Cancer: Get Regular Check-ups
Just because you don’t feel a lump in your breast doesn’t necessarily mean that you don’t have breast cancer. According to the ACS, women should get screening tests regularly even if they don’t feel any symptoms. This is to allow doctors to check if the patient has the disease even if there aren’t lumps that are felt—plus, it makes the disease easier to treat as the cancer cells detected through screening tests are usually smaller.
The following are the ages and recommendations for tests by the ACS:
- Women between 40 and 44 may start having regular annual mammograms
- Women aged 45 to 54 must get mammograms annually
- Women aged 55 and older can have mammograms every other year, or continue with their yearly schedule. These check-ups should continue religiously, as long as the woman is in good health and is expected to live for another 10 years.
Tips to Prevent Breast Cancer: Watch Your Weight
According to the ACS, weight gain and increased weight are linked with a higher risk of breast cancer after menopause. This is why doctors recommend that individuals watch and maintain a healthy weight. Physical activity is also recommended to balance one’s food intake and avoid excessive weight gain.