Incidence of breast cancer believed to be one of the commonest cancers afflicting women worldwide, expert believed could be brought under check if women imbibe the culture of regular self- examination starting from the age of 20 years.
An Oncologist, Dr. Agnes Bamidele who delivered a lecture on how to check the spread of the disease at a recent sensitisation workshop organised in Lagos recently advises that women should self-examine their breast to avoid a last stage cancerous disease.
She said there are many reasons why changes may occur in the breast, but stressed that most of them are harmless. She warned that regardless of this, every change no matter how little must be checked by a doctor without delay, to know the cause for the change.
According to her, when a doctor examines the breast, there may be the need for further request for a detailed examination, stressing that 70-80 percent of breast lumps are caused by cancer and can easily be treated at an early stage.
Bamidele said that some important changes to look out for include: a change in size or shape of the breast, change in the skin appearance that describes orange peel appearance, redness or warmth, a lump or thickening that feels deferent from breast tissue, or a lump in the armpit or collar bone, nipple discharge that shows brownish or blood and constant pain in the breast or armpit.
She explained that as women go through life from puberty into adolescence, childbearing years, breastfeeding years into menopause, female hormones called estrogens and progesterone are at varying levels and are responsible for development and nourishment of the breast. The hormones she claimed also play an important role in regulating the menstrual cycle.
She further stated that before and during menstrual period, during pregnancy and during breastfeeding, the level of oestrogen and progesterone increase and lobes in the breast become more active, stressing that the hormones are responsible for changes that one may notice such as heaviness, tenderness or lumpiness of the breast.
Breast examination according to her is a comfortable way of getting to know ones breast, which can be done anytime, adding that what is important is to get used to looking and touching the breast regularly. Breast, she noted can be examined while lying on the back, sitting or standing.
She described breast awareness as taking responsibility for breast health, which is part of general body awareness. ‘’Regardless of age, shape or size, it is pertinent to know what the breast feels and looks like and normal changes associated with it at every phase of life. Knowing what is normal for the breast will build confidence in detecting anything unusual in the breast,’’ she noted.