Be aware of breast cancer

Women worldwide are encouraged to wear pink ribbons or clothes this month to mark international breast cancer awareness month.

Women worldwide are encouraged to wear pink ribbons or clothes this month to mark international breast cancer awareness month.

Martha Molete, head of communication at the Cancer Association of South Africa, (Cansa), says the campaign is aimed at creating awareness around the issue and also to keep cancer survivors "close to your heart".

The pink ribbon is an international symbol for breast cancer awareness.

One in 26 women is diagnosed with breast cancer in South Africa. More than 3000 women die each year from this cancer in the country. But if detected and treated early, women have an excellent chance of full recovery.

All women are at risk. Molete says.

Television actress Lilian Dube and musician Busi Mhlongo were recently diagnosed with breast cancer and are now encouraging women to go for regular check-ups.

"That is why every woman needs to examine her breasts and underarms every month, a week after her monthly period, to check for lumps, unusual swellings, puckering of the skin, sores, pain, rashes or any other possible symptoms of breast cancer."

If you have these symptoms, see a health professional for a check-up. If you are over 40, ask your doctor how often to go for a mammogram.

Your doctor will organise a mammogram to detect lumps in the breast and a biopsy, which is when a tiny sample of the lump is sent to a laboratory to see if it is cancer. If the result is positive, treatment may include a lumpectomy (a lump is surgically removed), a mastectomy (the breast is removed), radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy.

Women should look after their health and this includes eating a diet low in animal fat and protein, to exercise regularly, avoid being overweight, limit alcohol intake and avoiding hormone therapy. For more information and advice, contact Cansa's toll-free information service during office hours on 0800-22-66-22 or email info@cansa.org.za

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