BREAST CANCER: A SILENT KILLER
Breast cancer is another silent killer in women’s health that we are giving less attention.
In 2021, breast cancer become the most common form of cancer. It takes about 12% of all diagnosed cancer globally. It has caused 74072 deaths in Africa.
7.7 out of 10 cases in Africa are diagnosed at stage 3 or 4 (the later stage of the disease). This disease, though more common in women, also affects men. These raise a cause for the need to increase awareness of the risk factors, home assessment, and the next line of action.
RISK FACTORS FOR BREAST CANCER
It can be divided into two major categories
MODIFIABLE RISK FACTORS
These are those you can work on to reduce the risk of breast cancer. These include
- Not being physically active. Those who are not physically active have a higher risk of getting breast cancer.
- Being overweight or having obesity after menopause. Older women who are overweight or have obesity have a higher risk of getting breast cancer than those at a healthy weight.
- Taking hormones. Some forms of hormone replacement therapy (those that include both estrogen and progesterone) taken during menopause can raise the risk for breast cancer when taken for more than five years. Certain oral contraceptives (birth control pills) also have been found to raise breast cancer risk.
- Reproductive history. Having the first pregnancy after age 30, not breastfeeding, and never having a full-term pregnancy can raise breast cancer risk.
- Drinking alcohol. Studies show that a woman’s risk for breast cancer increases with the more alcohol she drinks.
- Research suggests that other factors such as smoking, being exposed to chemicals that can cause cancer, and changes in other hormones due to night shift working also may increase breast cancer risk.
NON- MODIFIABLE RISK FACTORS
These are those you have no control over but when they are present try to as much work on the modifiable risk factor as much as possible. They include: GETTING OLDER: The higher the age, the increase in risk for breast cancer. The majority of the cases are diagnosed after 50 years of age
- GENETIC MUTATIONS: Those who have inherited changes (mutations) to certain genes eg BRCA1 and BRCA2 are highly at risk of ovarian and breast cancer
- REPRODUCTIVE HISTORY: women that start their menstrual period sooner than age 12 and reach menopause after age 55 are exposed to estrogen and analog hormones for a longer period, increasing their risk of developing breast cancer.
- HAVING DENSE BREAST: The denser the breast, the higher the ratio of connective tissue to fatty tissue, which can sometimes make it hard to see tumors on mammogram, increasing the risk of late diagnosis. Women with dense breasts are more likely to have breast cancer.
- HISTORY OF BREAST CANCER: Women who have had breast cancer are more likely to have it again. Some non-cancerous breast diseases such as atypical hyperplasia or lobular carcinoma in situ are associated with higher risk of having breast cancer.
- FAMILY HISTORY OF BREAST OR OVARIAN CANCER. A woman’s risk for breast cancer is higher if she has a mother, sister, or daughter (first-degree relative) or multiple family members on either her mother’s or father’s side of the family who have had breast or ovarian cancer. Having a first-degree male relative with breast cancer also raises a woman’s risk.
- PREVIOUS TREATMENT USING RADIATION THERAPY. Women who had radiation therapy to the chest or breasts (for instance, treatment of Hodgkin’s lymphoma) before age 30 have a higher risk of getting breast cancer later in life.
- EXPOSURE TO THE DRUG DIETHYLSTILBESTROL (DES). DES was given to some pregnant women in the United States between 1940 and 1971 to prevent miscarriage. Women who took DES, or whose mothers took DES while pregnant with them, have a higher risk of getting breast cancer.
NEXT LINE OF ACTION
If you observe any abnormalities, consult your physician.
You can reach out to us at the consult of your homes/workplace by clicking on the Doctor Icon on the hubcare app.
Monitor Healthcare is doing a discount breast cancer screening for N2,000 in Ikeja and Ikoyi. For more information click here
Sharma R. Breast cancer burden in Africa: evidence from GLOBOCAN 2018. J Public Health (Oxf). 2021 Dec 10;43(4):763-771. doi: 10.1093/pubmed/fdaa099. PMID: 32657321.
Breast cancer facts and statistics
Ogundeji Jide Jacobs is a young Pharmacist who is keen on augmenting efficient healthcare delivery with technology. He is a data analyst, product manager and also a researcher with multiple publications to his name. For questions, or enquiry kindly email me at email@example.com