Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the Philippines, and unfortunately, no cure for it has been discovered yet. The only way to prevent it is to gain awareness about it and early detection of the disease.
What is especially tragic is expectant mothers or new mothers developing breast cancer. Postpartum breast cancer occurs once in every 3,000 pregnant women.
Here are some of the things you should know about postpartum breast cancer: • A woman’s risk of getting breast cancer increases once she hits 30 years old upon the birth of her first child or recent childbirth. • Women who just gave birth have a slightly higher short-term risk of developing breast cancer, which takes a dip after 10 years.
Moreover, let us set the record straight regarding the common beliefs about breast cancer:
Myth #1: Only women with a history of breast cancer in the family can have it. The risk factors of around 70 percent of women with breast cancer are unidentifiable. If you have a first-degree relative (i.e. parent, child or sibling) who has had breast cancer, then your chances of getting it doubles.
Myth#2: Wearing underwire bras increases your risk of getting breast cancer. Despite the rumors, ladies, you can keep wearing your underwire bras because no, they don’t compress your breast’s lymphatic system and they don’t cause toxins to build up in your breasts. Scientists have confirmed no association between different types of bras and the possibility of it increasing your risk of breast cancer.
Myth#3: Finding a lump in your breast means you have breast cancer. The key here is to have your doctor check out the lump as soon as possible to determine whether or not it is cancerous. A lump in your breast is not necessarily cancer, as eight out of 10 breast lumps are benign. Be sure to do a self breast examination every one week after your period. If you’re 40 years old and above, schedule regular mammograms to screen for breast cancer.
Here are things to watch out for when doing a self breast examination: • Any change in the appearance of the nipple • Lump or thickening in the breast area or surrounding it, near the underarm area • Pain or nipple tenderness • Nipple or skin turning inward towards the breast • Swollen, red or scaly skin at the breast or a peeling nipple • Nipple discharge (you need to squeeze your nipple to check)
Remember, the key is to regularly examine your breasts and to immediately alert your physician for any suspicious signs that could be indicative of breast cancer. Do this for yourself and for your loved ones. Keep yourself as healthy as possible and always seek consultation when uncertain about any felt lumps in your breast.
Sources: • Michelle S. Lin. “Postpartum Breast Cancer” babble.com • September 20, 2011. Nichole. “Prenatal and Postpartum Breast Care: What You Need to Know” blogs.babble.com • Danielle Kosecki and Lauren Gelman. “12 Myths to Ignore About Breast Cancer” prevention.com • “25 Breast Cancer Myths and Misunderstandings (Nos. 1-5) health.com • “Breast Cancer Myths” nationalbreastcancer.org