Many countries mark October as the Breast Cancer Awareness month, with the aim to disseminate more information about the leading cancer among women, as well as promote an early detection.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women. Some risk factors have been identified but there are no specific causes leading to this condition. Many higher income countries have implemented cancer screening programs as early detection is still the main way to increase the survival chance.
The incidence of breast cancer is nearly 90 cases per 100 000 people in Western Europe, while in most developing regions is below 40/100 000. Therefore, breast cancer is seen as a disease affecting mainly higher income countries – which is true – however, rates among lower-income countries are increasing at a faster pace, as life expectancy increases as well in such regions. The survival rates also vary according to different regions in the world. In North America is 80% or higher, while in low-income countries is below 40%, mostly due to late detection.
Genetics, woman’s reproductive timing and some lifestyle choices can increase the chances of developing breast cancer. For instance, a familial history of breast cancer is a sign to pay attention to; reproductive factors like an early menarche, late menopause, late age of first childbirth and exposure to endogenous estrogens are also important risk factors. Alcohol use, obesity, overweight and physical inactivity can be the reason for around 20% or breast cancer cases, according to a study from 2005.
Breast self exams and clinical breast examination can provide some preliminary leads but the most effective way to detect breast cancer is by doing a mammography. Normally, women without risk factors should start doing the mammography exam after turning 35, each 18 months until the menopause. After the menopause the periodicity should be every 2 years.
Contact Medical Port if you are living in Portugal and don’t know where to go to do a mammography. For a thorough analyisis on women’s health, we also provide a gynaecological check-up.
Source: World Health Organization