Health and Wellness

Some facts you need to know about breast cancer today and always

By: - October 27, 2020

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are about 2.1 million women affected by breast cancer each year. In 2018 alone, 627,000 women lost their battle to the disease which makes it the most common cancer in women globally.

Every year, October is marked as Breast Cancer Awareness Month in countries worldwide to support and help increase awareness, treatment and early detection of the disease affecting not just women but also men.

Organizations, doctors, survivors, family members and even patients undergoing medication come together every October to share stories of hope, conduct numerous events to spread the importance of early detection and set up fund raising activities to support research and treatment.

Symbolized by a pink ribbon, Breast Cancer Awareness Month or Pink October is not just a campaign, it is a movement that continues to promote better understanding and knowledge of the disease all year long.

In recognition of Pink October 2020, below are some  of the most common misconceptions of Breast Cancer and key facts that you need to know today plus a few personal accounts of breast cancer survivors.

1. Myth: Breast Cancer is preventable

Research suggests that although it is possible to identify the risk factors of breast cancer such as family history and make lifestyle changes that can help lower the risk such as avoiding alcohol or smoking, more or less 70 percent of women diagnosed have no identifiable risk factors.

This means that the disease can occur largely by chance or according to many inexplicable factors yet to be explained.

Breast Cancer is not preventable and until today, may research has been devoted on how to prevent this diseases. | CDN Stock Photo

Just like for Nelia Flores Navarro, when cancer decided to make a home in her already jam-packed life 17 years ago, she was saddened to bring the news to her family as she was also the Assistant Regional Director of the Department of Trade and Industry Region 7 at that time.

But after a successful treatment, Navarro is now a breast cancer survivor and she encourages women to have yearly check-ups and go for scientific based treatments.

“Cancer is not a death sentence. There is hope after breast cancer,” Navarro shares.

2. Fact: There are ways you can reduce your risk for Breast Cancer

Out of every eight women, one can develop breast cancer and it is important to understand the relative and absolute risks for this disease.

There are actually various ways everyone can do to lower their risk. Having a healthy and balanced diet to maintain a good body weight is always one way to stay strong, along with regular exercise.

For women, breastfeeding newborn children was also found out to help reduce the risk for the disease.

And little to no alcohol consumption and no smoking are also among the best ways to stay healthy.

Breast Cancer risks can be reduced by practicing a healthy lifestyle. | CDN Stock Photo

Some individuals may not be aware that they are high-risk. This makes proactive steps such as early detection exams to come first.

For Ron-Bernabe Flores, losing her mom to breast cancer was already too much to bear. Until she got the news in 2017 — she was diagnosed and it felt like a death sentence.

Fast forward to today, Flores has found her real purpose despite the pain and is now one of the breast cancer survivors working to spread awareness on the disease through ICanServe Foundation.

Flores strongly advocates for early detection of breast cancer. “Find time. Take the exam. Make it a lifelong commitment to yourself and your loved ones. Early detection is the key to winning our fight against breast cancer,” she shares.

Out of every eight women, one can develop breast cancer and it is important to understand the relative and absolute risks for this disease.

3. Myth: There’s no steps to detect breast cancer at an early stage

Most of the time, the disease is diagnosed after the symptoms appear. But there are also women who suffered the issues but had no symptoms.

This is where regular screening is crucially important to detect breast cancer early. However, suitable types of screening to detect breast cancer may differ and will not be the same for everyone.

Worldwide, women are encouraged to start screening yearly at an age of 20 or as early as possible for those with high-risks. Although a self-exam can also help identify lumps, it is always important to visit a professional and have proper consultation especially as we mature.

By early detection and treatment, we can breast cancer and save lives. | CDN Stock Photo

When accomplished businesswoman Mary Anne Alcordo – Solomon learned she had breast cancer attributed to her aging as a woman, she considered her diagnosis as the beginning of the rest of her life.

She is a proud cancer survivor who chairs the ICanServe Foundation leading different efforts to advocate early detection and save many lives.

Now 16 years cancer-free since her diagnosis, Solomon uses her experience as an instrument to empower and touch many lives up to this day.

“Whether you are ready or not, someday your life will come to an end. Having cancer is not your choice but how you live your life with cancer is your choice. At the end of the day, it is not the duration of one’s life that matters but the donation of one’s life, live a life that matters,” Solomon shares.

4. Fact: Breast cancer happens to younger, middle-aged, older women and even men

It is no secret that being a woman and growing older are one of the main risk factors for developing breast cancer. But women of all ages today should be more cautious of their breasts and perform self-exams.

According to a research in 2017, about four percent of invasive breast cancers were diagnosed in women under age 40, while about 23 percent were diagnosed in women in their 50s and 27 percent in women ages 60 to 69.

Breast Cancer affects women and men of all ages. | CDN Stock Photo

When Ronette Duran was 24 and only starting to build her career, she was shaken to the news that she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

But she knew she had a greater purpose, she became confident of God’s plans for her life and found her life’s purpose.

“I want to inspire people and to let them know that having cancer doesn’t mean dying, it’s living,” Duran said.

Today, she is an active member of ICanServe Foundation to spread awareness on breast cancer and to erase stigma on breast cancer patients.

5. Myth: When treatment is over, you’re finished with breast cancer.

Like other diseases, breast cancer can have a long-term impact on someone’s life and well-being.

Women can still experience long-term side effects even after main treatments are done.

Side effects such as physical pain, fatigue, skin changes, neuropathy and others can still be experienced by patients depending on the treatment.

With various efforts of many organizations across the globe, Breast Cancer research and treatment has advanced through the years to save more lives of women and men. | CDN Stock Photo

Other side effects patients can experience are also mental or emotional anxiety, fear of recurrence, among others.

This myth is prevalent which makes educating the community on breast cancer awareness is a substantial advocacy.

According to Dr. Ellie May Villegas, a medical oncologist and past president of the Philippine Society of Medical Oncology, all women are prone to having breast cancer because of the hormone Estrogen.

She also strongly recommends that through early detection, more lives can be saved.

“All women must know how to do a Breast Self-Examination starting at 20 years old. This has to be coupled with clinical breast examination by a doctor or trained nurse or health care worker every three years for those beyond 30 years old and an X-ray of the breast called Mammogram, every year starting at 40 years old. Help spread the word that Breast Cancer is curable if detected early. Life will always be meaningful in spite and despite of cancer,” Villegas shares.

As we bid goodbye to Pink October 2020, let us remain informed and personally have a look into breast cancer as a topic to share and start a conversation with everyone so that we may continually save more lives through early detection and accurate information./dbs

Latest Stories
Most Read