In Ghana, 2260 women per 100,000 representing 24.2% developed breast cancer in 2012 with a mortality of 1021 representing 18.5% (GLOBOCAN, 2012)
Over the years, there has been intensified efforts worldwide to combat this worrying trend and as such, the10th month of every year (often referred to as pink October) has been dedicated for awareness creation on the need to be breast self-aware.
In commemoration of the Pink October 2015, a group of Student Nurses at the University of Ghana Nursing School, as part of their academic work, organized a seminar for members of the school to sensitize them on how touching a breast could save a life. The theme, “Breast self-awareness: step into the light” was carefully selected with the aim of shifting focus from battling with the disease state (cancer), to empowering everyone to easily detect any changes that could be warning signs for the disease.
Lecturers, students and other staff of the school as well as resource personnel selected across the medical field attended the seminar. Participants were enlightened on the topic and later taken through a step-by-step approach to examining one’s own breasts or that of a partner.
It is however, worth noting that finding a breast change does not necessarily mean there is a cancer. Breast changes during a woman’s period is generally normal except for extreme cases but the following are signs that should be reported if they persist:
- Any new lump or hard knot found in the breast or the axillary tale of spence(towards the armpit)
- Any swelling or thickening that does not shrink or lessen after your next period
- Any change in the size, shape or symmetry of your breast
- Any dimpling, puckering or indention in the breast
- Skin irritation and/or change in the breast skin.
- Redness or scaliness of the nipple.
- Nipple discharges, tenderness or pain
- Nipple retraction: turning or drawing inward or pointing to one direction
- Any breast change that may be cause for concern
Below is a guide to perform breast self-examination at home.
In conclusion, breast self-examination is not a substitute for clinical breast examination. It is recommended that everyone with a breast must self-examine it once every month to supplement the yearly clinical examination. Do not be alarmed if you find an abnormality. It could be an inflammation, benign lump or hormonal changes. Report any symptoms if they persist or if you are not sure what they mean.
Go out and touch a breast today and save a precious life.