Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer among women globally. But the word “cancer” should not be considered taboo anymore, and early detection can make all the difference. Among Qatari women, the percentage of people going for screenings is very low, and many of these women are only being diagnosed in the advanced stages, according to a recent study conducted by Dr Tam Donnell of the University of Calgary. To reverse this trend, it is a necessity that awareness about the disease, and how easy and non-invasive the screening process is, become common knowledge. Here are some tips on how to stay cancer free or catch it early.
Detect it early
Early detection drastically increases the chances of survival as the treatment can start at the soonest. Studies show that if breast cancer is caught in its infancy, the survival rate is 98%, according to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. This does not mean that you have to wait for symptoms to show themselves before you get a screening – people are diagnosed with breast cancer after having regular check-ups.
If you haven’t had a screening just for precautionary measures, it’s imperative you know the symptoms that could potentially point towards breast cancer. These include one or more lumps in the armpit, changes in shape or size of the breast and nipple changing – such as a sudden inversion, discharge or scaling.
Other signs include a persistent lump that may feel different from other tissue and is somewhat tender, or changes in skin, such as dimpling, redness, puckering, visible veins, increased warmth or itching.
It’s important that you are aware that there are factors that mean you are potentially more susceptible to getting cancer than others.
For those that have a higher risk, regular screening is even more important. Certain signs to look out for are whether a close relative has breast cancer, such as a sister, mother or daughter. If you have had it in the past, or if you had your first child after the age of 30 are also factors that increase your chances.
There are also two particularly abnormal genes that indicate an increased risk, known as the BRCA1 and BRCA2.
Your lifestyle can also have a say – if you are overweight, drink lots of refreshments and do little exercise, you also increase the risk. Smoking is also something to avoid.
It’s also important to note that men can also contract breast cancer and the illness is not exclusive to women.
Lowering the risks
So how do you go about lowering the risk of contracting breast cancer? Guidelines from the Primary Health Care Corporation suggest at least 150 minutes per week of aerobic activity, breastfeeding for as long as possible, avoiding smoking, controlling your weight and being sensible with refreshment choices.
The Primary Health Care Corporation is offering breast screening to everyone in Qatar.
A mobile van will be going around the city, stopping at various venues across Qatar for women. The process is very simple and non-invasive, with highly-trained professionals getting an accurate reading. The process will see a female technologist reviewing your history and symptoms related to breast cancer, then you will put on a gown in preparation for the examination. Then you go to the mammography machine and place your chest over the receptor, with the machine applying moderate compression for a few seconds to get the clearest image. The female technologist views the images on the screen to assess the quality and you then leave and get on with your day. If there are any developments, you will be contacted in due course. It is as simple as that.
To find out where you can get checked out, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pink events and promotions
Try one of these events or purchase something to help raise money for charity, throughout breast cancer awareness month in Doha...
Cupcakes to kick cancer
A quarter of the revenue from mini cupcakes and pink macarons sold will be donated to Qatar Cancer Society.
W Café, W Doha Hotel & Residences, West Bay (4453 5385).
For every pack of three invisibobble rings (invisible hair ring) purchased for QR25, QR4 goes to Qatar Cancer Society as part of the “Show You Care, Be Aware” campaign.
Various malls, saloons and fitness centres.
Pink ribbon brunch
Guests bring their best pink outfit and money raised will fund Think Pink and Qatar Cancer Society research projects.
QR295-QR325. Coral, InterContinental Doha, West Bay Lagoon (4484 4444).
Pink ladies breakfast
Half of the revenue generated goes to Qatar Cancer Society. This is a ladies only event and is priced at QR135.
From 9am-11am. Market by Jean Georges, W Doha Hotel & Residences, West Bay (4453 5135).