Understanding Breast Cancer: Early Detection is Key to Timely Intervention

Prevention is better than cure and raising awareness about the disease goes a long way in ensuring a healthy and cancer-free lifestyle



By Muhammad Ali Bandial

Published: Tue 15 Mar 2022, 10:26 AM

Last updated: Tue 15 Mar 2022, 10:28 AM

Breast cancer is the most prevalent cancer among women in both the developed and less developed worlds, according to the World Health Organisation. Breast cancer accounts for nearly 20 per cent of all cancer cases in the UAE and is the second most significant cause of death among women after cardiovascular conditions.

With the launch of its new Breast Center, Fakeeh University Hospital aims to bridge the gap that exists in terms of awareness amongst women, along with providing the population of the UAE with expert care, early detection and better chances of recovery.

Dr Alache Millicent Bello, Consultant Breast and Oncoplastic Surgeon at Fakeeh University Hospital
Dr Alache Millicent Bello, Consultant Breast and Oncoplastic Surgeon at Fakeeh University Hospital

What is Breast Cancer?

Breast cancer is a condition in which the abnormal rapidly dividing cells of the breast multiply uncontrollably. There are various types of breast cancer. Breast cancer cells typically form a lump, abnormal distortion; calcifications or asymmetry between the breast, which can be seen on X-rays or felt as a lump. It affects almost primarily women, however, men can develop it too.

“It is possible to survive breast cancer and emerge victorious. While we cannot prevent the onset of the condition, with awareness, the right treatment and care can be given in time for a healthier life ahead. One of the best ways to nip this disease early on is by understanding the symptoms and doing regular screening. Women over 40 years of age should ideally consult their doctor and plan out their screening schedules. While younger women can do regular self-screenings themselves, women with a family history of breast cancer should also start screenings earlier,” says Dr Alache Millicent Bello, Consultant Breast and Oncoplastic Surgeon at Fakeeh University Hospital.

Dr Serife Simsek, Specialist Breast Surgeon, Fakeeh University Hospital
Dr Serife Simsek, Specialist Breast Surgeon, Fakeeh University Hospital

Symptoms of Breast Cancer

Following are some of the most common signs and symptoms of breast cancer:

A new lump or thickening in the breast or armpit

Change in breast size, shape, or appearance

Dimpling or irritation in breast skin

A nipple that has recently inverted

The pigmented patch of skin surrounding the nipple (areola) or breast skin peels, scales, crusts, or flakes

Reddening or pitting of the skin above your breasts

Spontaneous Nipple discharge (other than breast milk), including blood

Causes of Breast Cancer

Breast cancer develops when some breast cells grow abnormally, according to doctors. “These cells divide at a faster rate than healthy cells, causing a lump or a mass to develop. Cells in your breast may move to lymph nodes or other regions of your body (metastasize) and may cause further issues,” informs Dr Serife Simsek, Specialist Breast Surgeon, Fakeeh University Hospital.

Cells in the milk-producing ducts are the most common cause of breast cancer (invasive ductal carcinoma). Breast cancer can start in the glandular tissue known as lobules, ducts (invasive lobular carcinoma) or in other cells or tissues inside the breast.

Hormonal, behavioral, and environmental variables have all been linked as possible contributory factors that may increase the risk of breast cancer, according to researchers. Only 5-10 per cent of breast cancer are due to genetic or inherited breast cancer genes, commonly BRCA1and 2. The greatest risk factor is being female and increasing in age.

Breast Cancer Screening

The best way for early diagnosis of breast cancer is regular screening. Breast cancer is usually diagnosed after the symptoms develop, although many women with cancer have no signs or symptoms at all. This is why it is critical to get screened for breast cancer on a regular basis.

Given below are some breast cancer screening tests:

Mammogram

Breast Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Breast Self-Awareness

Clinical Breast Exam

Risk factors that cannot be controlled

Reproductive history

Growing older

Genetic mutations

Family history of breast or ovarian cancer

Previous treatment using radiation therapy

Having dense breasts

Personal background of breast cancer or some non-cancerous breast diseases

Risk factors that you can control

Being physically inactive

After-menopausal obesity or overweight

Using hormones

Consuming alcoholic beverages

Prevention

For women with an average risk of breast cancer, making lifestyle changes may help lower their risk of breast cancer. Make an effort to:

Conduct breast self-exams

Consume beverages in moderation

Engage in some physical activity

Post-menopausal hormones should be avoided

Maintain a healthy weight

Choose a nutritious diet

Breastfeed, if possible

Breast cancer risk management for high-risk women

If your doctor has reviewed your family history and concluded that you have other risk factors for breast cancer, such as precancerous breast disease, you may explore methods to lower your risks, such as optimised screening advice, chemoprevention or preventive surgery.

Also, according to your personal history, consult your doctor about when to start mammograms and other tests. Maintain a healthy lifestyle and food habits to prevent various diseases, including breast cancer.

It is a manageable condition, provided that timely intervention is availed, which is possible through regular screenings. Ensure that you stay in touch with your doctor to understand the screening processes and the timelines that will suit your health.

If you or your loved one is at a risk of breast cancer due to the various causative factors, we advise screening and consultation with experts in breast care at Fakeeh University Hospital’s newly opened Breast Center.

For more information and appointments

call: 04 414 44 44

www.fuh.care


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