Friday, February 26, 2010

Breast Cancer: Truth or myth? Get to know the facts on breast cancer and beat it!

Do you know? Breast cancer ...
can happen to women without a family history of it
can hit women as young as 30
can also be diagnosed in men!

And do you know? ...
Early detection raises rate of recovery
From age 30, you should start monthly Breast Self-Examination (BSE)
From age 40, you should go for yearly mammogram
From age 50, you should go for twice-yearly mammogram

Truth or Myth?
Myth : If I have large breasts, I’m more likely to get breast cancer.
Truth : There is no correlation between the size of breasts and the risk of breast cancer. The risk of breast cancer increases with age, especially in women aged 50 years and above.

Myth : Men do not get breast cancer.
Truth : Men can get breast cancer although the proportion of men diagnosed with breast cancer is relatively small as compared to other cancers.

Myth : Wearing a tight-fitting bra can cause breast cancer.
Truth : There is no scientific prove that wearing ill-fitting bras causes breast cancer.

Myth : I will not get breast cancer as I do not have a family history of the disease.
Truth : Although a family history of breast cancer (especially 1st degree relatives, e.g. mother, aunt) does increase your risk, many cases of breast cancer happens to women without family history.

Myth : I’m too young to get breast cancer.
Truth : Though women 50 years old and above are most at risk of getting breast cancer, there are also cases of women below that age diagnosed with the disease.

Myth : Oral contraceptive pills (birth control pills) can cause breast cancer.
Truth : Birth control pills do not cause breast cancer. The amount of estrogen and progesterone (hormones that are often associated with increased risk of breast cancer over time) found in oral contraceptive pills are too small to pose a noteworthy risk.

Myth : All breast lumps are cancerous.
Truth : Not all breast lumps are cancerous. And not all cancerous breast lumps are painful.

Myth : Mammogram can cause excruciating pain.
Truth : Your breast would be compressed slightly during mammogram. The fat surrounding the milk glands and ducts will be flattened slightly during the compression. There may be a slight discomfort but not excruciating pain.

Now you know the truth, what can you do to help yourself?

1. Detect changes in your breasts through regular checks and screenings:
Breast Self Examination (BSE) Mammogram
30 – 39 years
40 – 49 years YES
YES, Once a year
50 years & above YES
YES, Once every 2 years

A breast self-exam can't prevent breast cancer, but it may help you to better understand the normal changes that your breasts undergo and identify any unusual signs and symptoms.

2. Exercise most days of the week. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise on most days of the week.

3. Limit postmenopausal hormone therapy. Combination hormone therapy may increase the risk of breast cancer. Talk with your doctor about the benefits and risks of hormone therapy. Some women experience bothersome signs and symptoms during menopause and, for these women, the increased risk of breast cancer may be acceptable in order to relieve menopause signs and symptoms. To reduce the risk of breast cancer, use the lowest dose of hormone therapy possible for the shortest amount of time.

4. Maintain a healthy weight. If your current weight is healthy, work to maintain that weight. If you need to lose weight, ask your doctor about healthy strategies to accomplish this. Reduce the number of calories you eat each day and slowly increase the amount of exercise. Aim to lose weight slowly — about 1 or 2 pounds a week.

Sources: Workplace Health Digest October- December 2009 & Mayo

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