Breast Cancer: Prevention & Detection

On May 22, the IMSS Foundation held the ‘My Fight is Pink 2018’ Summit, a space for the joint reflection of opportunities for the control of breast cancer in our country.

Over the course of a day, various health specialists, opinion leaders and figures from the artistic, sports and cultural fields debated this issue and shared their respective experiences and success stories around personal empowerment. The objective of this meeting was to raise awareness among the population about the importance of early detection of breast cancer, since 95% of cases are curable when detected at an early stage.

All women can be affected by this disease. But we can minimize that risk when we detect it as soon as possible. In recent years, the number of women passing from breast cancer has decreased. The improvement in screening explains much of this positive development. This test does not prevent the appearance of the cancerous tumor, but allows its early detection. The less advanced the disease is, the greater the chances of a cure.

Risk factors in which we cannot influence

Gender is the number one risk factor for breast cancer. Men can develop the disease, but much more rarely than women.

Age is also an important risk factor. Four out of five women with breast cancer are over 50 at the time of diagnosis.

Similarly, women who have a mother, sister or daughter with breast cancer in their family are more likely to develop the disease.

Approximately 5 to 10% of breast cancers are due to hereditary predisposition.

The risks that can influence

Some risk factors for breast cancer are closely related to lifestyle. Therefore, it is often possible to avoid them or at least reduce them:

Women with regular physical activity are less exposed.

Alcohol and nicotine increase the risk of breast cancer. Therefore, it is recommended to limit alcohol to small amounts, avoid daily consumption and stop smoking.

Eating too much fat and sugar also promotes the onset of the disease. A balanced diet, rich in fruits and vegetables, helps prevent overweight and therefore reduce the risk of breast cancer.

What you have to do

Regular breast self-examination is a simple method to detect changes in the breasts. The best time for manual palpation is between the seventh and the twelfth day after the period begins. It is also an opportunity to check with a mirror if the appearance of the breast has changed or not.

Important: all these gestures do not substitute in any case the examination carried out by a specialist.

Mammography continues to be the most reliable method to detect breast cancer in women over 50 years of age.

If you are a woman with a higher than average risk of breast cancer, consult your family doctor.

React quickly to the following symptoms or disorders

If you notice any of the following changes during your breast exam, tell your doctor immediately:

Presence (not painful) of a nodule or roughness in the chest or armpits

Changes in the size, shape or color of breasts; changes in the appearance of the skin, such as redness, bumps, or skin retraction, especially in the nipple

Nipple swelling or clear or blood-tinged discharge

Pain or tension sensations different from those related to menstruation

Difference in volume between the two breasts

Unexplained weight loss

The earlier this disease is diagnosed, the more timely treatment is, so it is very important that women do breast self-examination, which is one of the ways in which they can recognize abnormal signs.

Redacción para Dalia Empower: Nancy N. Salazar