By Surihe Gaomas
Prevention is better than cure, and with breast cancer early detection is the possible cure for fighting the disease, according to the Cancer Association of Namibia.
In light of the fact that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the Cancer Association of Namibia (CAN) encourages all Namibian women to take up preventative tests in the early detection of breast cancer.
Preventative tests include regular self-breast examinations as well as pap smears against cervical cancer. The tests would be done at the CAN offices in Windhoek.
Chief Executive Officer of CAN Reinette Koegelenberg said prevention is the key against this common disease.
“Prevention is the answer to not getting breast cancer and we need to raise more awareness of this fact – women should go for these preventative tests,” said Koegelenberg.
Statistics show that breast cancer remains the third most worrisome cancer in Namibia after skin cancer, that tops the list, and another disease called Kaposi sarcoma, mainly found in people infected with HIV/AIDS.
Breast cancer is a malignant (cancerous) tumor that starts in cells of the breast. It occurs when cells of the breast grow and multiply in an uncontrolled manner. Though the exact cause has eluded scientists, the abnormal cell division appears to be the result of some mutation in the cell’s deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA).
A common breast cancer myth is that a lump must be present for it to be breast cancer.
Although a lump is a common symptom of breast cancer, there are many breast cancer symptoms women aren’t aware of like sudden change in breast size or a breast that is warm to the touch.
Some of these symptoms associated with the early stages of breast cancer are dimpling of the skin or changes to breast texture or shape, changes in nipple shape or unexplained discharge, breast lumps or skin thickening and underarm tenderness or skin changes.
However, Registered Nurse at CAN Alet van der Merwe said the sooner cancer is diagnosed and treated, the better the patient’s chances for a full recovery.
For early detection, it is necessary that the person has regular medical check-ups and does self-examination.
“Prevention is always better than cure and early detection is always the best way to avoid later suffering and serious consequences. Breast cancer and cervical cancer are the most common amongst women,” said Van der Merwe.
She said that women over the age of 40 are at risk of getting breast cancer and they should go for regular breast examination check-ups and pap smears.
In essence, breast cancer is a curable disease provided that it is detected and treated early.
However, in an effort to raise awareness about breast cancer this month, the public are requested to wear a pink ribbon as a sign to fight this disease.
People are expected to wear a pink ribbon to honour the survivors of breast cancer as well as remember those lost to the disease and to support the search for a cure.
For many years, the pink ribbon has become a powerful symbol to increase awareness about breast cancer. As part of the awareness, CAN will hold a Pink Day on October 12, when the public are requested to wear pink attire for a N$5,00 donation in support of the fight against breast cancer.
A Medi-Clinic Fun Run for Breast Cancer will be held the following day.