Johannesburg — SOUTH African women have been encouraged to have their breast health monitored regularly in order to detect breast cancer at an early stage. At that stage, treatment has the best chance of success.
The encouragement came from oncologist, Dr Sylvia Rodrigues, during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. She heads the cancer care centre at Netcare Clinton Hospital in Alberton.
Rodrigues pointed out that the prognosis for people who had developed breast cancer-- which is the most common cancer to occur in women globally --was greatly improved in the majority of cases if it is detected at an early stage and treated appropriately from the outset.
"It is certainly useful for women to self-examine and to know the normal look and feel of their breasts, so that they are able to detect any changes that may have occurred, or if a lump has developed," she said.
"It should be kept in mind, however, that in most cases lumps and changes in the structure to the breast tissue are not indicative of cancer, so women should avoid trying to self-diagnose which may cause them unnecessary distress," Rodrigues noted.
Symptoms are not limited to a discharge from the nipple, painful or inverted nipples, unusual swelling of a breast, puckering or dimpling of the breast skin and orange peel appearance of the skin around the nipple.
Esme Abrahams, general manager of Netcare Clinton Hospital, urged women to be vigilant about their breast health.
"We can successfully fight breast cancer, as many survivors can testify, especially if it is diagnosed and treated early," Abrahams.