It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month for the entire October, and activities relating to this occasion are being held throughout the world. Here in the Philippines, Avon is at the forefront once again with its annual Kiss Goodbye to Breast Cancer (KGBC). This time, the focus is on the importance of breast self-examination through a campaign called Pink Minute.
Why Pink Minute? Because it actually takes only a minute to check for yourself for any signs of breast cancer. For more information on how to do it properly, get free consultation, and know more about breast cancer, dial the Pink Minute hotlines 0917-155PINK (Globe) and 0928-524PINK (Smart).
In the meantime, here is a quick run-through of some of the important information you need to know about breast cancer:
- Pink ribbon is the universal symbol for breast cancer. Everywhere in the world, a pink ribbon is used by health organizations and advocates to promote awareness for breast cancer every October of each year. The use of this symbol is believed to have started in 1991 when the Susan G. Komen for the Cure (then known as Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation) distributed pink ribbons to breast cancer survivors and participants of their Komen New York City Race for the Cure event.
- The Philippines has the highest incidence of breast cancer in Asia. Approximately 14,000 new breast cancer cases are being diagnosed every year, out of which around 6,000 deaths occur.
- One in every 13 Filipino women are expected to develop breast cancer in a lifetime. Some of the risk factors that may lead to breast cancer include being obese, bearing no child in a woman’s reproductive years, a history of breast cancer in the family, excessive alcohol intake, early menstruation and late menopause, among others.
- Men can also have breast cancer. While it’s rare among men, they do have the possibility of developing this illness. Men with ages between 60 and 70 are the ones generally diagnosed for breast cancer. Currently, men account for less than 1% of all breast cancer patients in the country.
- Exercise can reduce the risk of breast cancer. A 30-minute power walk a day may help keep the cancer cells away, so to speak. Exercise boosts the immune system and gets rid of excess fat, which should help minimize the risk along with other preventive measures.
- Breastfeeding for at least one year can lower the risk of developing breast cancer. Women who breastfeed have less exposure to estrogen since they are going through fewer menstrual cycles. Estrogen is a type of hormone that is believed to trigger certain types of breast cancer.
- Breast cancer can be treated if detected early. Once diagnosed, a breast cancer patient should discuss several treatment options available with a physician. Two known treatment types are local and systemic. Local treatment involves surgery and radiation, while systemic involves chemo and hormone treatment drugs.
- Mastectomy is not for everyone. When Angelina Jolie announced that she had her breasts removed (double mastectomy) to eliminate a possibility of having breast cancer, she had a long and serious talk with her doctor before going through the procedure. Apparently, she was diagnosed to have the “faulty gene” and had roughly 87% risk of breast cancer.
- Breast cancer has almost no symptom at the onset. There is no absolute symptom to conclude that one has breast cancer or is at risk, although there will be signs like a lump on the breast. This is why early detection is important to get the proper treatment.
- Breast Self-Examination (BSE) is a start. BSE at least once a month, particularly a week after menstruation for women, can help detect early signs of breast cancer risk. Doctors also advice regular clinician’s examinationand mammography especially for those who are at high risk.
Breast cancer does not choose anyone. We can fight this together by starting with our own breast self-examination, which will only take 60 seconds of our time wherever and whenever it is convenient for us.
To know how to properly do this, watch the video courtesy of Avon’s Pink Minute campaign.
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