Do not take chances with breast cancer

Do not take chances with breast cancer

Breast Cancer Centre

Do not take chances with breast cancer

Know the risks of breast cancer and you may never have to ask the question: ‘Why me?’

Knowledge is power. While no one is absolutely free from the threat of breast cancer, some of us are more vulnerable than others. Overall the lifetime risk of female breast cancer in our country is 1 in 27. Among the different population groups the picture alters dramatically to 1 in 12 for whites, 1 in 18 for Asians, 1 in 18 for coloureds and 1 in 49 for black women. Those cancers detected early enough will be successfully treated but about half will be diagnosed too late for a cure.

For women, it is vital that you examine your breasts properly about a week after your period every month and have them checked by your doctor or gynaecologist every one to three years, depending on your age and doctor’s advice, if:

  • Your mother or sister has had breast cancer – especially before menopause
  • You have never had a child or if you had your first baby after you were 30
  • You began menstruating before you were a teenager
  • You started your menopause after you were 50 years old
  • You’ve had hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for longer than five years
  • You started taking oral contraceptives before your first pregnancy and while you were still in your teens (not all doctors agree that this is a cancer risk, though)
  • You’ve been exposed to excessive radiation (mammograms are considered safe as they have low radiation and have benefits that outweigh any disadvantages)
  • Your diet is high in saturated animal fats and alcohol – more than seven units a week (a unit being one glass of wine, one beer or cooler or 25 ml of spirits)
  • You are overweight and physically inactive
  • You smoke – even passively
  • You’ve had any other cancers
  • You have a sexually-transmitted disease

Today, doctors use a holistic approach to cancer in the family, offering advanced diagnostic and screening services, risk management and treatment advice and support through expert counselling.