Early Detection Saves Lives: The Importance of Breast Cancer Examination
Posted on November 13 2023
Breast cancer is a severe disease that affects many women globally. In October, we focus on Breast Cancer Awareness to stress early detection's importance and support patients, survivors, and breast cancer organizations.
We believe in taking a stand against breast cancer. Our commitment to meaningful action drives our message, حدّك, and we work to raise donations that make a real difference in the lives of those affected.
The message behind حدّك
Within the journey of a woman who fought and overcame breast cancer, we show our contribution. Your personal determination, coupled with your profound love for your surroundings, symbolizes the strength we deeply cherish. Your strength knows no bounds, and we're here to be together every step of the way.
Understanding Breast Cancer
What is breast cancer?
Breast cancer is a disease that occurs when cancer cells develop in the breast tissue. These cancer cells can form a tumor that can be felt as a lump or seen on an X-ray. There are several types of breast cancer. The type of breast cancer is determined by which specific cells within the breast tissue undergo the transformation into cancerous cells. Most breast cancers begin in the ducts or lobules.
Early Warning Signs of Breast Cancer
It's crucial to know the early warning signs of breast cancer, which include:
- Lump in the breast or underarm
- Changes in breast size/shape
- Nipple discharge/inversion
- Skin changes like redness dimpling
Who is at risk?
While breast cancer can affect anyone, certain risk factors increase the likelihood of developing the disease. These risk factors include:
- Age (risk increases as you get older)
- Family history of breast cancer
- Previous diagnosis of breast cancer
- Certain genetic mutations
- Dense breast tissue
- Exposure to radiation
- Hormone replacement therapy
The Power of Early Detection
Why early detection is crucial
Early detection is crucial because it can lead to more successful treatment outcomes. Sadly, most tumors are detected when they are invasive. This means the cancer has spread from the breast ducts or lobules into the surrounding breast tissue. When breast cancer is detected early, it's more likely to be confined to the breast tissue and easier to treat. The five-year survival rate for women with early-stage breast cancer is 99%. However, if breast cancer is not detected until it has spread to other body parts, the five-year survival rate drops to 27%. In addition, early detection means that the treatment will be less aggressive.
Types of Breast Cancer Exams
There are several types of breast cancer exams, including:
- Clinical breast exams
- Self-breast exams
- Breast MRIs
- Breast Ultrasounds
- Digital Breast Tomosynthesis (3-D Mammography)
What is a Mammogram?
A mammogram is an X-ray of the breast that can detect early signs of breast cancer, such as lumps or calcifications(calcium deposits within breast tissue). 3D mammograms are a newer kind of breast screening that's becoming more common. They are better at finding breast cancers and reducing the need for follow-up tests.
How to Perform a Self-breast Exam
A self-breast exam is an important way to detect changes in your breast tissue. Here are simple and easy examinations that you can perform. Here's how to perform a self-breast exam:
- In the Shower: Raise one arm behind your head and gently use the opposite hand to feel for any lumps or thickening on both sides. Repeat for the other breast.
- In Front of a Mirror: Stand in front of a mirror with your arms down, then clasp your hands behind your head. Look closely for any changes like puckering or dimpling.
- Lying Down: Lie comfortably with a pillow under your right shoulder, hand behind your head, and use the other hand to feel in a circular motion from the outer edge toward the nipple. Check the area between your breast and armpit. Repeat for the other breast.
If you notice any changes or abnormalities, contact your healthcare provider right away.
Screening Recommendations for Women:
Dr.Mirna, Head of the Department of Oncology- Hematology at French-Lebanese Hospital (Levant Clinic) Beirut, shared her input with us. She recommends the following guideline provided by the American Cancer Society.
Women with Average Risk
Talking to your doctor about when to start checking for breast cancer is crucial. If your risk is average, you should begin mammograms at 45.
A woman is considered at average risk for breast cancer if she doesn't have a history of the disease, a strong family history, or a genetic mutation that raises the risk of breast cancer.
Women with High Risk:
If your risk is higher, you might start earlier. Keep getting checked regularly, as your doctor suggests.
General Guideline for Screening
- Women aged 40 to 44 can start screening with a mammogram every year.
- Women of the age 45 to 54 should get mammograms every year.
- Women aged 55 and older can get a mammogram every two years or stick with yearly mammograms.
Tips for Breast Cancer Prevention
Eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and avoiding tobacco and excessive alcohol consumption can help reduce your risk of developing breast cancer.
Breastfeeding can also help reduce your risk of developing breast cancer. It's recommended that women breastfeed for at least six months.
Genetic testing and counseling:
If you have a family history of breast cancer or other risk factors, genetic testing and counseling can help you understand your risk and make informed decisions about screening and prevention.
How to Get Involved in حدِّك:
This October, we want to make a difference. Through حدّك we want to raise donations to show our support for every single woman. In collaboration with Doctor Mirna El Hajj and the Lebanese Breast Cancer Foundation as well as the AUBMC we hope to make a difference, and this is how you can help us this October.
How You Can Help
There are three ways you can make a donation:
- Shop Online or In-Store: 5% of every purchase throughout October will directly support the LBCF (Lebanese Breast Cancer Foundation).
- In-Store Donation Boxes: Find our donation boxes in-store and contribute directly. Every little bit helps!
- Direct Donation Through Our Website: You can make a donation on this page by pressing one of the “Donate Now” Buttons.
In addition to purchases and direct donations, you can join our Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign by spreading the word about the importance of early detection and treatment. You can share our campaign on social media, talk to your friends and family about breast cancer, and encourage others to get screened regularly.
Thousands of women are affected by breast cancer globally. In the past, we did not have the means or the tools to fight this disease. Today, we have what it takes to raise awareness and spread the message. October is Breast Cancer Awareness, so make sure to spread the word about early detection. Self-examinations and mammograms can greatly improve the healing process for patients. Make donations to breast cancer organizations or through Ellina. Together, we can make a difference.