In observance of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, October, the Cancer Association of Grand Bahama Hospice hosted a Breast Cancer Awareness Seminar on Tuesday (October 3) night in the organization’s meeting room.
President and Counselor of the Association, Norma Headley, in an interview with this daily, said that the seminar featured two doctors.
“Dr. Bethel, who is a radiologist, she spoke on X-rays and Dr. Johnson, she’s an intern, she spoke on Breast Cancer and the different stages,” she said.
She added that this month the association wants to concentrate on Breast Cancer, which means keeping up with women who need to get mammograms done, along with coordinating with radiologists and patients.
Headley said that more women, specifically Bahamian women, need to educate themselves.
“It’s not that they’re uniformed, it’s too much information out there. It’s just that the black Bahamian women do not want to hear about Breast Cancer,” she said.
According to Headley, many of these women place other things as a priority over screening for cancer.
She stated that Breast Cancer usually hurts in the last stages.
Headley also noted that one of the presenting doctors explained how Breast Cancer is difficult to detect in heavy and dense breasts. “This is why women should be proactive in going to the doctor and getting mammograms, especially if cancer runs in their family,” she said.
Other risk factors for Breast Cancer include – age, race, personal health history, early menstruation, and late menopause (after 55).
The recommended age for women to receive mammograms is 35-40 and they should get this done at least once a year. Women can also get their breasts checked by a doctor from as early as 20-years-old.
Women should also look and feel their breasts once a month, around the same time, for lumps or skin changes.
Other ways to help reduce the risk of developing Breast Cancer is keeping a healthy weight, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, limiting alcohol intake and breastfeeding your babies.
According to the Lucayan’s Family Doctor, when caught early Breast Cancer patients have a 98 percent survival rate. It was also noted that Breast Cancer is the fourth leading cause of death among Bahamian women. It accounts for 25 percent of cancer related deaths among females.
Males can also get Breast Cancer, but it is less frequent than females.
Research shows that Breast Cancer starts when cells in the breast begin to grow out of control. These cells usually form a tumor that can often be seen on an X-ray or felt as a lump. The tumor is malignant (cancer) if the cells can grow into surrounding tissues or spread or metastasize to distant areas of the body.
Drugs used to treat breast cancer are considered systemic therapies because they can reach cancer cells almost anywhere in the body. They can be given by mouth or put directly into the bloodstream. Depending on the type of breast cancer, different types of drug treatment might be used, including: Chemotherapy Hormone Therapy and Targeted therapy. Many women get more than one type of treatment for their cancer.
Breast Cancer is also often treated by surgery to remove the tumor. Depending on the type of breast cancer and how advanced it is, you might need other types of treatment as well, either before or after surgery, or sometimes both.