Don’t die of ignorance – Well being and Life-style
By Henrylito D. Tacio
“The cancer cells in my brain have been reduced significantly since my radiation program three months ago. I haven’t had chemotherapy for a month. “This is what award-winning filmmaker Marilou Diaz-Abaya posted on her Facebook page in 2012. The month: September.
A week earlier she even quoted Albert Einstein with this post: “There are only two ways to live your life; either by believing that nothing is a miracle or by believing that everything is a miracle. “
But on October 7, 2012, the popular director, whose films included Brutal, Moral, Karnal and Alya’s Baby Tsina, Muro Ami and Bagong Buwan, lost her battle with breast cancer. According to their son Marc, his mother died at 6:30 p.m. at St. Luke’s Hospital in Taguig City after a five-year battle with cancer. She was 57 years old.
Abaya was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007. Her health improved in 2008 but returned the following year. It was gone again in 2010 and came back in 2011. “On bad days, she relies on pain medication. On good days she uses her time to support the numerous efforts of her sons ”, Marc was quoted as saying.
Breast cancer is the leading cause of death in women between the ages of 35 and 54 worldwide. More than a million people develop the disease without knowing it, and nearly 500,000 women die from it every year, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer.
So much so that October is declared Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It is an annual international health campaign organized by major breast cancer charities around the world and is also being watched in the Philippines.
In Asia, the Philippines has the highest incidence rate for breast cancer. In addition, it is among the top ten countries with the highest number of breast cancer cases, according to a document published by the Asian Hospital and Medical Center (AHMC).
The Department of Health (DOH) and the Philippine Cancer Society, Inc. (PCSI) considered breast cancer to be the most common cancer in the country – especially among women. “13 Filipino women are expected to develop breast cancer in their lifetime,” the AHMC document reads.
Breast cancer can occur at any age, but it usually affects women over 35. “Age is the greatest risk factor for the disease,” wrote Sue Ellin Browder in a special report for Reader’s Digest.
Family history is another high risk factor. This is the case when a family member (mother, aunt, sister, or cousin) has had breast cancer. A woman who has had certain types of non-malignant tumors removed from her breast is also at risk.
Other possible candidates for the disease are women who menstruate early (before age 12) or who have had late menopause (after age 50). A woman who is childless or has her first child by age 30 is most likely to develop breast cancer.
Lifestyle also plays an important role in the development of breast cancer. Those who eat a diet high in animal fats (such as pork) can also get the disease. A study from Harvard University showed that women who gained 20 to 25 kilograms after age 18 nearly doubled their risk of developing breast cancer after menopause compared to women who gained just a few pounds.
Women who drink alcoholic beverages watch out! Breast cancer risk increases by 11% if a woman drinks once a day regularly, 24% with two drinks, and 40% with more than two, according to research by Lenore Kohlmeier, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the University of Carolina.
The risk of dying from breast cancer increases by 25% in smokers, according to the American Cancer Society. This number increases in proportion to the number of cigarettes smoked per day and the number of years as a smoker. Anyone who smokes two packs a day or more has a 75% higher risk than non-smokers.
Without knowing it, there is more than one type of breast cancer. For example, some rare malignancies are so aggressive that they will kill the victim even if identified on a mammogram when they are young. Other species are so “slow growing” that they are not fatal even if they go undiagnosed for years. Still others start out as treatable tumors, which can be more dangerous and difficult to treat as they grow.
How does a woman know she has breast cancer? The Family Health Guide lists the following symptoms: lump in the breast or armpit, dark discharge or bleeding from the nipple, retraction of the nipple, pitted skin over the lump, and abnormal changes in the size and shape of the breast.
In general, it is the woman herself who may discover that she has breast cancer. That was the Swedish actress Ingrid Bergman who found out about her breast cancer. She read an article about breast self-exam and followed the directions. Then she felt a lump in her chest.
The Geneva-based World Health Organization (WHO) suggests that women should check their breasts regularly – at least once a month.
“Women should check their breasts a week after menstruating,” advises The Woman Almanac. “After menopause, check your breasts on the first day of each month. If you’ve had a hysterectomy (surgical removal of the uterus), ask your doctor or clinic about the appropriate time of the month to examine your breasts. “
Here are the Philippine Cancer Society, Inc. (PCSI) instructions for performing Breast Self-Examination (BSE):
In the shower or while bathing: Examine your breasts. Your hands slide easily over wet skin. Fingers flat, move gently over each part of each chest. Use your right hand to examine the left breast, your left hand to examine the right. Check for any lumps, hard knots, or thickenings.
In front of a mirror: Examine your chest with your arms by your sides. Next, raise your arms high above you. Look for changes in the contour of each breast – a swelling, depression in the skin, or changes in the nipple. Then place your palms on your hips and press down firmly to flex your pecs. Left and right breasts do not exactly match – only a few women’s breasts. Regular inspections show what is normal for you and give you confidence in your exam.
Lie down: To examine your right chest, place a pillow or folded towel under your right shoulder. Put your right hand behind your head – this will distribute the breast tissue more evenly across your chest. With your left hand and flat fingers on the very top edge of your right chest, make small circular motions around the outer edge of your chest until you get back to the top, pressing gently the entire time. (Don’t panic if you find a comb or solid tissue on the lower curve of each breast; this is normal.)
Then, move an inch toward the nipple and repeat the process. You will likely need to make three more circles around your breast for every part – including the nipple – to be examined. Now slowly repeat the entire process on your left chest with a pillow under your left shoulder and your left hand behind your head. All the while, notice how your breast structure feels. Finally, gently press the nipple of each breast between your thumb and forefinger.
According to doctors, early detection is a key factor that can increase a woman’s chances of surviving breast cancer. “Learn today how to examine your breast and do it regularly,” says the PCSI. “The simple procedure could save your life.”
Dr. Diana O. Cua, a breast surgeon trained at Standford University in the United States and now practicing in the country, recommends monthly BSE for women aged 20 and over.
“If you notice a lump, dimple, or discharge, contact your doctor immediately. Don’t panic, ”emphasizes“ The Woman Almanac ”. “Only doctors can make the diagnosis. You will do a biopsy to see if the lump is cancerous. “
Most of the lumps, says Dr. Cua, are benign, which means they are not malignant.
Oddly enough, men are not spared breast cancer. “Many people only associate breast cancer with women,” says Dr. Kevin D. Maupin, specialist in internal medicine. “This may be because male breast cancer is rare.”
Men are usually over 60 when they are finally diagnosed with breast cancer. “The delay in detection may be due to men seeing a doctor later than women and feeling that breast cancer is a female problem,” said Dr. Maupin. “They can also be embarrassed to have their symptoms checked up, and they can wait up to 18 months before seeing a doctor.” – ###