In commemoration of Breast Cancer Awareness Month this October, PhilStar Globalreports that the Philippines has the highest prevalence of breast cancer among 197 countries, according to data from the Philippine Obstetrical and Gynecological Society.
The Department of Health (DOH) also says that breast cancer is one of the most common types of cancers affecting Filipinas. It is estimated that one of 13 Filipinas will have breast cancer in her lifetime, according to the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development.
The causes of breast cancer are still unknown. The Philippine News Agencyreports that most healthcare professionals seldom understand why some women have breast cancer and some don’t.
The good news is that even at home, women can perform breast self-exams to check for possible symptoms of breast cancer. The National Breast Cancer Foundationsays that adult women are encouraged to perform breast self-exams at least once every month so they can familiarize themselves with how their breasts look and feel, which will allow them so spot any changes.
Breast self-exams can be performed in three ways. The first is in the shower. All you need to do is move the pads of your fingers around your breast in a circular pattern, moving from the outside to the center. Make sure to check the entire breast and the armpit area and look for any lumps, thickening, or hardened knots.
A second way to do a breast self-exam is in front of a mirror. Raise your arms high over your head and check if your breasts show any changes in contour, swelling, or dimpling, as well as if there are changes in your nipples. Next, place your palms on your hips and press firmly (to flex the muscles in your chest), and again, check for dimpling or puckering.
Lastly, lie down so that your breast tissue spreads out over your chest. Put a pillow under your right arm and your right arm behind your head, and using your left hand, move the pads of your fingers around your right breast in circular motions, making sure to cover the entire breast and the armpit area. Squeeze your nipple and check for lumps or discharge. Repeat this procedure for your left breast.
Aside from breast self-exams, mammograms can also help you detect breast tumors before they can be felt. If you detect any lumps or changes in your breasts, schedule an appointment with your doctor and inform them of your concerns.
Breast cancer can also be prevented through maintaining a healthy lifestyle, breastfeeding, and other methods. Learn about the steps you can take to protect yourself from this disease here.