90 percent of the people who are diagnosed with breast cancer do not have any family history of the disease hence it is important for every woman to self-examine their breasts once every month, Prof. Joe Nat Clegg-Lamptey has stated.
The Head of the Korle Bu Breast Multidisciplinary Team speaking to Ghanaweb said, “if a mother or a sister had breast cancer, especially if they had it at a young age, that may only be a pointer that you have that gene but only up to about 10% of breast cancer patients have that gene… so not having somebody in the family who hasn’t had breast cancer doesn’t mean you can’t get it”.
He said women should pick dates they can easily remember monthly to examine themselves adding that one shouldn’t do this examination when menstruating.
“Every woman should examine their own breasts once a month, for those who still have their periods we advise that you wait for about a week after the period when the breasts are not too tender and then do this examination,” Prof. Clegg-Lamptey said.
He added that the self-examination is to help women get familiar with their breasts so they can easily identify any changes in them.
He also said women need to get a medical breast examination once every three years but once every year after age 40.
“We advise you once every three years to see a doctor to be examined, after the age of 40 we advise that, that is done once every year but probably the most important is what we call a mammogram”.
He also said women who are 40 years and above should get the mammogram at least once every two years to help detect cancers even before they start developing.
October is the Breast Cancer Awareness month and the Korle Bu Breast Unit is partnering some other hospitals to offer women free breast screening for the entire month.
Deputy Medical Director of the Nyaho Medical Centre (one of the partnering hospitals), Dr Osa Olayemi noted that age, alcohol consumption, smoking and breast density are some of the risk factors for breast cancer.
she urged women to avail themselves for screening as that is the only way cancer can be detected early and cured.
She said, “if women with breast cancer come in a bit earlier than they usually do then we will achieve more cure rates than we usually do”.
How to perform the monthly self-examination
Step 1: Stand in front of a mirror with your arms over your head and look for changes
Step 2: Press your hands on your hips and tighten your chest muscles and look for any changes
Step 3: Gently squeeze each nipple to check for any irregular discharge and look for any changes
Step 4: Lie down, with a pillow under the left shoulder. Feel the left breast using the pads of your fingers and press down in a circular motion with varying pressure. Check for any lumps or changes. Repeat the process with the right breast
Changes to look out for
1. Change in size or shape of breast or nipples
2. Dimpling, puckering or other skin changes