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Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Every October, the world observes the Breast Cancer Awareness Month in hopes of raising awareness, commitment and global efforts to early diagnose and treat breast cancer patients. According to WHO, 2.3 million women were diagnosed with breast cancer and around 685,000 deaths occurred globally. By the end of 2020, there were 7.8 million women alive, diagnosed with breast cancer in the previous 5 years, ranking it as the world’s most prevalent type of cancer. Approximately half of breast cancers are developed in women who have no identifiable breast cancer risk factor other than gender (female) and age (over 40 years). However, breast cancer can arise in men too. Certain factors do increase the risk of breast cancer such as increasing age, obesity, harmful use of alcohol, family history of breast cancer, history of radiation exposure, reproductive history (such as age that menstrual periods began and age at first pregnancy), tobacco use and postmenopausal hormone therapy. Breast cancer treatment can be highly effective, achieving survival rates of 90% or higher, when the disease is early diagnosed. Treatment generally consists of surgery and radiation therapy for control of the disease in the breast, lymph nodes and surrounding areas (locoregional control) plus systemic therapy (anti-cancer medicines) to stop and/or reduce the risk of the cancer spreading (metastasis). Previously, all breast cancers were treated surgically by mastectomy (complete removal of the breast). When cancers are large, mastectomy may still be required. However Today, the majority of breast cancers can be treated with a smaller procedure called a “lumpectomy” or partial mastectomy, in which only the tumor is removed from the breast. In these cases, radiation therapy to the breast is generally required to minimize the chances of cancer recurrence.

Reference:  1. Breast Cancer. World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/breast-cancer. Published 2021. Accessed 11 Oct, 2021.

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