Breast Cancer Awareness: Due Diligence for Early Detection

31st October 2022

UKZN Extended Learning

– by Nkosingiphile Ntshangase

There is power in knowledge, which is why raising breast cancer awareness is so significant, as it remains prevalent. Heartbreakingly, breast cancer continues to tear apart families and take the lives of people we love and admire. As a community faced with tragedies related to breast cancer, we must educate ourselves on the topic. This could reduce the risk and our ability to detect abnormalities in the early stages. Breast cancer is most likely to be treated successfully when it is caught in its earliest stages. This is why everyone being well-versed in breast cancer detection is so paramount, and individuals from all socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds should receive the necessary medical treatment.

According to the World Health Organisation:

“In 2020, there were 2.3 million women diagnosed with breast cancer and 685 000 deaths globally. As of the end of 2020, there were 7.8 million women alive who were diagnosed with breast cancer in the past 5 years, making it the world’s most prevalent cancer”.

The prevalence of breast cancer globally is exceptionally high; hence, the need for awareness to be spread far and wide. To stand in solidarity, many people wear pink or sport a pink ribbon for individuals that are currently fighting cancer, survivors and those that have unfortunately succumbed to the disease. ‘Pink Month’ involves educating those concerned about breast cancer, including early detection and the signs and symptoms of the disease but this is something that should be recognised all year round.

Kindly find some general signs and symptoms of breast cancer below:

  • A breast lump or thickening
  • Alteration in size, shape or appearance of a breast
  • Dimpling, redness, pitting or other alteration in the skin
  • Change in nipple appearance or alteration in the skin surrounding the nipple (areola)
  • Abnormal nipple discharge

The incidence of breast cancer has increased in recent years due to various lifestyle implications. No other cancer causes as many deaths in women as this one. Nevertheless, men are just as likely to develop breast cancer as women. Early detection and treatment are more likely to lead to longer survival rates for individuals with breast cancer than those who don’t receive treatment. For this reason, communities should be aiming to motivate people to get tested to determine if they have the disease. However, taking care of one’s health and well-being should be a priority daily, not just in October, to detect or mitigate potential future ailments.