Every 50 seconds, somewhere in the world, a woman dies from breast cancer, according to WHO data. However, it is a pathology that, if diagnosed on time and with timely treatment, has a high survival rate. Within the framework of Pink October, as every year, the health portfolio reminds women to go to care establishments for mastology consultations to prevent the appearance of this disease.
Breast cancer is the most common among women in the world. Annually, it is diagnosed about 2.2 million cases and approximately 685,000 women die as a result of this disease; the majority of these deaths occur in low-income countries, according to estimates by the World Health Organization (WHO).
In Paraguay, during the year In 2020, 1,945 new cases of breast cancer were detected and 590 women died from this diseaseaccording to data provided by the IPS Central Hospital Oncology Department.
Why is October dyed pink? With the aim of raising awareness and promoting regular check-ups, the WHO established October 19 as the International Day to Fight Breast Cancer and, throughout the month, hundreds of initiatives are launched to offer women – regardless of their economic condition- easy, fast and timely access to early diagnosis systems and, if required, to procedures, quality medical and pharmacological care, to address the disease, its physical and emotional sequels.
“Make a difference and take care of yourself. Remember: a timely diagnosis saves lives” is the message of the Clinical Oncology Service of the IPS Central Hospital that, in breast cancer awareness month, every Saturday in October, at the Central Hospital Radiology Service (IPS) enables appointments for mammography studies in the morning shift, in order to make the diagnostic controls for breast cancer available.
“Like every year, we adhere to the Pink October awareness campaign, remembering the importance of early detection and timely treatment, since the sum of both factors can change the prognosis: it has up to a 90% chance of survival”, remarks Dr. Bo Sung Kim, oncologist and head of the Clinical Oncology Service of the IPS Central Hospital.
Risk factors and symptoms
“Generally, the symptoms of breast cancer are: a lump or thickening in the breast; alteration in the size, shape, or appearance of a breast; the appearance of dimpling, redness, cracks or other changes in the skin; the change in appearance of the nipple or the alteration in the surrounding skin (areola); and/or abnormal discharge from the nipple”, diagnoses Dr. Eva Lezcano, head of the Oncology Department of the IPS Central Hospital.
More than half of breast cancer cases correspond to women without any identifiable risk factor, except for gender (female) and age (over 40 years), says the WHO. Some factors increase the risk of suffering from this disease, such as aging, obesity, harmful alcohol consumption and smoking, which is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer, as well as other diseases, according to the specialist.
Likewise, Dr. Lezcano indicates that other factors have an impact, such as: family history of breast cancer, history of exposure to radiation, reproductive history (such as the age of onset of menstrual periods and age at first pregnancy), the tobacco use and postmenopausal hormone therapy.
On the other hand, numerous studies carried out by the American Institute for Cancer Research have shown a reduction in the risk of breast cancer in women who have breastfed, and it is proportional to the period of time that they have maintained this habit.
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Healthy habits to prevent
Prevention is also an attitude, points out Dr. Bo Sung Kim: “This goes beyond not smoking, exercising, eating correctly or not exposing yourself to the sun in moderation, for example. It has to do with resting, with stopping and observing what we are and where we are; with ensuring that as many people -as possible- have access to knowledge, so that they know the consequences that what they eat, what they drink and what they breathe can have”.
For her part, the oncology expert shares some general recommendations to prevent breast cancer:
✓Perform breast self-examination regularly from the age of 20. If you detect any lump or abnormality, see a doctor immediately.
✓Annual medical control with the gynecologist, from the age of 25.
✓Mammography with more than 50-69 years, every 2 years.
Maintain a healthy and balanced diet.
✓Do exercises or some daily physical activity.
How to schedule a mammogram
The IPS has mammography studies for insured women, who must make an appointment at the window of the Diagnostic and Imaging Center of the Central Hospital, with a medical order. Within the framework of Pink October, every Saturday of the month, in addition to the existing shifts, appointments for mammography studies are also enabled in the morning shift, from 7:00 to 11:00.
The scheduling is done at the Diagnostic and Imaging Center of the hospital, with the order of the study indicated by the treating physician.