Here, in honour of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a primer on how to take charge of your health.
With the bustling days of fall ahead of us but holidays still afar, the month of October brings a moment of pause in pink hues for all of us. It gives us an opportunity to stop, breath and focus on yourself and health, even if for a moment of realization. It pushes you along to schedule a yearly visit to your ob-gyn. According to doctors worldwide, regular checkups are a key in battling the disease, which estimated affects 1 in 8 US women over the course of their lifetime. According to WHO alone in 2020, over 2.3 million women were diagnosed with breast cancer. With novel research emerging in the form of 3D mammography, ultrasounds, breathalyzer clinical trial, as well as American Cancer Society (ACS) guidelines, which recommend women of age getting their first mammograms, there are more ways to take charge of your health and prevent cancer.
Know Your Family History
According to WHO family history of breast cancer increases the risk of individual getting it. This was statistically analysed and conducted by UK based study that gathered and studied data of 113,000 women in UK. It is very important to personally analyse the risk and walking you ob-gyn through your family history on the first appointment. “Do your homework before you arrive,” says Dr. Linda Larsen, director of women’s imaging and radiology research at USC’s Keck School of Medicine. It is advised to piece together a clear health history of both the parents, and atleast three generations back, for a thorough overview. According to doctors it is also beneficial to include other cancers in the list because a family with multiple relatives with different types of cancers would carry a gene mutuation of the diseases. Ethnicity can also play a part. According to Breastcancer.org, White women are slightly more at a risk in developing cancer than a woman of colour. But a women of colour are more likely to develop more aggressive and advanced-stage of breast cancer that could lead to death.
Ask Your Doctor About Your Breast Tissue Density
Mammography is one of the most advanced and great technological/medical advancement in detecting cancer in women of age. However, in younger women because of more glandular tissue than fat, it can make it harder to detect or spot cancer. Although 3D mammography can collect multiple images and reduce the need for more tests. But ultrasounds, a radiation free option, can further help determine is cysts are solid or water-filled. There are many methods for detection but you might sometimes need a combination of techniques for the best result. Talk to your doctor openly about the best options and do your personal research before getting in there.
Take a Blood Test
According to a research presented at the 2-19 NCRI Cancer Conference a simple blood test can detect and identify breast cancer upto five years before any clinical signs of it. The blood test identifies the body’s immune response to substances produced by tumour cells. This can reveal a host of mutations, including BrCA1 and 2 and other genetic variants. Armed with this information, before-hand and at the right time can give you a significant chance to make proactive decisions about your health. Those who carry genes linked to cancer should talk with breast cancer doctors for personalised screening plans and further a treatment. It is advised to go for a detailed blood test every now and then.
Get Up to Date About Mammograms
Mammography is the most important step in taking care of yourself. Whether you’re new at it or a veteran, knowing what to expect may help the process smoothen up. According to QCS, go for early detection if:
- You are 20 years and older (clinical breast exam periodically).
- You are 45 years and older.
- Family history with breast cancer.
- Previous lump in your breast (benign or malignant) and
- Genetic predisposition of getting breast cancer.
There have been new clinical trials of pairing mammography with a simple breath test which may be able to revel biomarkers for breast cancer via the scent of the breath. No matter the modality, it’s in your hands to make an informed decision about your health.
Take Preventative Measures
According to study Effects of a High vs Moderate Volume of Aerobic Exercise on Adiposity Outcomes in Postmenopausal Women by Christine M. Friedenreich, Heather K. Neilson, and Rachel O’Reilly, increasing exercise and decreasing body fat can reduce the risk of breast cancer for postmenopausal women. Researchers found that postmenopausal women who exercised at least 300 minutes per week were more successful at reducing their total body fat compared to those who exercised for half the time. That reduction in body fat may play a role in reducing breast cancer risk. For overall health, public health officials recommend we be physically active for at least 150 minutes per week at moderate intensity, or 60 to 75 minutes per week at vigorous intensity. This amounts to about 30 minutes per day, five days per week. It’s never late to start taking better care of yourself. The fall is almost here and so is a fresh breath of air, so how about you take some time off your busy schedule for yourself and exercise.
PHCC is offering a population-based screening to all eligible target population that are invited to routine screening at a specific screening interval. Breast Cancer Screening Service is provided to the target population by performing a mammogram test which is used for breast cancer detection. In case of any abnormal mammography reading, participant is referred to HMC for further assessment.