Breast Cancer is one of the most prevalent cancer here in the Philippines based on DOH statistics, and it is important to be able to know how best to prevent it. Part of this is learning how to detect breast cancer early on.
Breast cancer in the Philippines
Contrary to popular belief, men can also get breast cancer, but it is most common in women. In fact, it is the leading killer of women aged between 35 and 54, with almost 500,000 women dying from it every year.1 Treatment ranges from chemotherapy, which is the use of special medicines, in pills or injected into veins, to shrink or kill the cancer cells, to mastectomy, or the surgical removal of breast tissue.
However, it is always better to detect early symptoms of breast cancer rather than deal with it when they are already there. The earlier breast cancer is discovered, the greater the chance for successful treatment. On the other hand, there is a lower chance of survival if cancer care is delayed or inaccessible, along with possible complications and higher costs of treatment and care.
So how can one detect breast cancer early?
Learn your family history
The first step is to take note of any family history of cancer. If you have a first-degree relative either on your mother or father’s side who had breast or ovarian cancer, you have a higher chance of getting it.
Get checked regularly
Breast cancer awareness month in the Philippines promotes having regular breast examinations. You can do this on your own, as you should be familiar with how your breasts usually look and feel.
Breast self-examinations are how you can keep track of how your breasts look or feel. If you feel any bumps or lumps that weren’t there before, or any concerning discolorations or skin changes, it is better to go to your primary care doctor or gynecologist to double-check.
Mammograms are probably the most commonly known way of helping detect breast cancer. It is a low-dose x-ray done on your breasts. Regular mammograms can help find breast cancer at its early stages when treatment is most likely to be successful.
A breast ultrasound is another way to detect breast cancer. It is an imaging test that uses sound waves to look at the inside of your breasts. A wand-like device called a transducer is moved over your skin, sending out sound waves that bounce off your breast tissue, making an image of your breasts. It doesn’t use radiation or dye.
Whichever method you choose, know that it is best to determine if you have early symptoms of breast cancer, and that it is never too late to get help.
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