Cancer is a condition, not just a single disease; it is a group of several diseases. According to studies, breast cancer is the second most common cause of cancer deaths. On an average estimate, around 83,000 cases of breast cancer are reported in Pakistan while around 40,000 women die due to this deadly condition. No doubt cancer is a silent killer.
In Pakistan, it is estimated that one in nine women develop breast cancer at some stage of Pakistan. Now, the irony is, more than half of the female population doesn’t even give it a chance to get them checked. And all the studies, surveys, recorded and documented data is based on reported cases. What about the ones who just die of it? What about the ones who keep developing this deadly condition but have no idea about what’s going on inside them?
People, who are aware of this severity, certainly know and realize that this needs to be changed no matter what. The main causes of breast cancer are still not known and are very ambiguous. However, medical professionals are very well aware of the risk factors. And one of the main factors playing its part is the family history of breast cancer. But still, many women who might be at high risk of breast cancer development may never develop it, while women who are not even at risk may develop it. Therefore, it is still unclear what mainly causes it. Our medical professionals are not to be fully blamed for the deaths caused by breast cancer, because Pakistan lacks the technology of mass diagnosis in many of its regions where it is needed the most. Shaukat Khanam cancer hospital is undoubtedly playing its part, but their administration and their doctors cannot go door to door to check people who might be at risk.
So, when things are so vague about it, how can you play your part?
Well, when breast cancer begins to develop in a woman’s body, it is extremely difficult to know it right away, just like other forms of cancer. But you can be cautious about it. You can take care of yourself. You can get familiar with your body. You can get to know your body. You can examine your body better than any other professional because you’d know how your body reacts to various things.
A lot can be done on higher levels, but since there are so many other, complex issues that our country is going through, this one is often looked down upon.
It is October, the officially declared Breast Cancer Awareness Month. And in the honor of all survivors of this vicious condition and of those who lost the fight, it is our responsibility to stand against it.
The Do’s and Don’ts to lower the risk factors:
- Examine your body to get used to it and the changes that occur in it. Examine your breasts for any lumps, masses or anything that might feel strange.
- Be physically active and maintain a healthy BMI (Body Mass Index)
- Whenever you work out, always keep in mind the power of a good and sturdy sports bra. Never work out without wearing one, otherwise it may strain your breasts which can increase the risk.
- Always keep a record of your menstrual calendar. If something feels unusual, it means that you have hormonal imbalance which can higher the risk. Seek medical attention ASAP.
- Lookout for sudden, unexplained weight changes in your body. If you have drastically gained or lost body weight, seek medical attention right away.
- If you’re a new mommy, try to breast-feed your child as it lowers the risk of breast cancer.
- In case you are already on some hormone therapy, limit its use and consult your doctor.
- Avoid smoking.
- Get yourself a complete medical examination twice a year in order to lower the risk of such conditions and to clear any doubts. A mammogram may save your life.