Everything You Need To Know About Breast Cancer

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October is breast cancer awareness month, so this is the best time to get all the information you can about breast cancer. There’s no reason to be afraid really because knowledge is power and the more you know, the more empowered you are to make the best decisions.

So here are some things you need to know about breast cancer:

Breast cancer is an uncontrollable growth of the cells in your body, that can either be benign or malignant. Benign tumours grow slowly and do not invade other tissues or spread to other parts of the body. Malignant tumours grow to invade surrounding tissues and spread to other parts of the body.

breast cancer
Facts about breast cancer according to WHO (World Health Organization)

1. Breast Cancer is the most frequent cancer among women, impacting over 1.5 million women each year. It causes the greatest number of cancer-related deaths among women. In 2015, 570,000 women died from breast cancer.

2. While breast cancer rates are higher among women in more developed places, rates are increasing in nearly every region globally. Almost 50% of breast cancer cases and 58% of deaths occur in less developed countries (GLOBOCAN 2008).

3. Breast cancer survival rates are different worldwide. Ranging from 80% or over in North America, Sweden and Japan to around 60% in middle-income countries. It gets to below 40% in low-income countries.

4. The low survival rates in less developed countries can be explained mainly by the lack of early detection programmes. This results in a high proportion of women presenting with late-stage disease.

breast cancer
These are the facts but don’t panic, stay with me. 80 to 85% of breast lumps are benign, meaning they are noncancerous, especially in women younger than age 40. Not only that, if you’re having regular mammograms, and if those mammograms have been normal, odds are even better and it is more likely that your lump is not cancer.
Breast self-exam is a useful and essential screening strategy, especially when used in combination with regular physical exams by a doctor and mammography. It is particularly useful in a society such as Nigeria where access to health services might be an issue. About 20% of the time, breast cancers are found by physical examination rather than by mammography (breastcancer.org). 
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