How breast cancer
screenings can save lives
By CHRISLEY ANN HINAYAS /
Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc.
September 25, 2012
CEBU CITY –
Screening remains the primary defense available to women against
contracting breast cancer.
“Breast cancer screenings
are very beneficial for women. These examinations should be
periodically done by women even if they are not suspected of having
breast cancer. There will be more lives saved if more women will take
advantage of these screenings,” Ronald delos Reyes, program
coordinator of Eduardo J. Aboitiz Cancer Center (EJACC) of Ramon
Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI), disclosed.
EJACC continues to advocate
the prevention of breast cancer through screening, more strongly so
during October, which is declared Breast Cancer Awareness Month, when
the cancer center will hold the annual “Moonwalk: A Walk for Breast
This year, Moonwalk will
gather hundreds of participants in pink costumes on Oct. 2 and walk
together from Plaza Independencia to the Fuente Osmeña Rotunda.
Breast cancer is the leading
cause of cancer-related deaths among Cebuano women, based on EJACC’s
Metro Cebu Population-based Cancer Registry. Delos Reyes added that
men are not exempt from contracting the disease.
EJACC records women aged
50-54 years old are the ones most likely to be diagnosed with breast
cancer. In 2003-2007, there are 657 deaths out of the 1,349 breast
“Breast cancer screening
means checking a woman's breasts for cancer before there are signs or
symptoms of the disease. This can help detect cancer at an early
stage. When abnormal tissue or cancer is found early on, it is easier
to treat,” Delos Reyes explained.
There are three periodic
examinations that are employed to screen the breast for cancer. These
are monthly breast self-examination (BSE), annual clinical breast
examination (CBE), and annual mammography.
Beginning in their 20s,
women should do breast self-exam. This examination enables women to be
familiarized with their breasts for lumps, changes, or abnormalities
in shape or size of the breast, in the armpit area and other areas of
“Breast self-exam can be
easily performed while during bath time. One can discover breast lumps
when their skin is moist. Do small circles in up and down pattern in
the surrounding area of your breasts by applying light and firm
pressure over each area,” he said, pointing out that changes in color
and texture of the skin and nipple should also be checked.
Some other things that
should be noted during BSE are swelling, nipple pulling inward, nipple
discharge (not breast milk), and unusual pain in the breasts.
He said that BSE should be
performed five to 10 days after the monthly menstruation period. To
those women who no longer have monthly periods, they can do the
examination any time of the month.
On the other hand, when
women reach the age of 40, an annual CBE should be done by a trained
and healthcare professional.
“The annual CBE is a good
time for women to learn the proper technique to examine their breasts,
ask questions regarding their health, and note any changes or
abnormalities,” he said.
Annual mammography, on the
other hand, should be done at the age of 40 and above. A mammogram is
a low dose X-ray of the breast used to detect abnormalities, including
those too small for you or your doctor to feel or see.
All women are at risk of
developing breast cancer, he pressed.
“Simply being a woman is the
main risk factor for developing breast cancer. This is because of the
female hormones, estrogen and progesterone, which can promote breast
cancer cells,” he said.
He added that those women
who have had early menstruation (before the age 12), those who went
through late menopausal (after age 55), and women who have not had
children or who had their first child after the age of 30 have a
higher risk of developing breast cancer.
The increase in risks may be
due to a longer lifetime exposure to the hormones, estrogen, and
“Seventy percent of the
newly diagnosed breast cancer cases in Metro Cebu were found in the
later stage of the disease. As the cases of breast cancer is becoming
higher in number, the best option and the primary prevention is
periodic screenings,” he said.