October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Pink ribbons popping up everywhere reminds us how important it is to look after our ‘knockers’. Worldwide campaigns are running to increase attention and support for the awareness, early detection, and treatment as well as palliative care of this disease.
Currently, there is not sufficient knowledge on the causes of breast cancer; therefore, early detection of the disease remains the cornerstone of breast cancer control. When breast cancer is detected early, and if adequate diagnosis and treatment are available, there is a good chance that breast cancer can be cured.
If detected late, however, curative treatment is often no longer an option. In such cases, palliative care to relief the suffering of patients and their families is needed.
We visited Dr Thandi Ngcongo from Orchid Medical Centre for more insight into breast light, a revolutionary way of detecting breast cancer early.
First, we need to understand the types of breast cancer; the breasts are made of fat, glands, and connective (fibrous) tissue. The breast has several lobes, which split into lobules that end in the milk glands. Tiny ducts run from the many tiny glands, connect together, and end in the nipple.
These ducts are where 80% of breast cancers occur. Ductal cancer is breast cancer that arises in the ducts. Cancer developing in the lobules is termed lobular cancer. About 10%- 15% of breast cancers are of this type.
Other less common types of breast cancer include inflammatory breast cancer, medullary cancer, phyllodes tumor, angiosarcoma, mucinous (colloid) carcinoma, mixed tumors, and a type of cancer involving the nipple termed Paget’s disease.
Dr Thandi uses a breastlight to gain an internal view of the breast. This innovative device allows you a clear view of the internal functions of your breasts. Using harmless and yet extremely powerful LED lights to penetrate through the breast tissue delivering a translucent effect. The breastlight device will give you a clearer idea if there are any abnormalities by showing them as a dark cluster.
“Now any abnormalities in the form of a black mass or cluster can easily be detected. In many cases these clusters will be harmless or easily treatable but the fact that the breastlight has revealed them to you, must raise red flags,” Dr Thandi said.
Early detection of the condition can lead to effective treatment and a positive prognosis. About 90% of patients survive for many years after diagnosis when breast cancer is detected at the early stages. Regular self-breast examination and regular mammograms is key to early detection. One in 28 South African women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime.
Breast cancer is also the form of cancer that affects women the most, followed by cervical cancer. Men can also develop breast cancer. The most common sign of a breast cancer is a lump in the breast.
“Breast cancer awareness should not only be an October issue. Women should take note of their breasts and act as soon as they feel something is wrong.”
For more information about breast cancer or to book an appointment contact 065 969 1773 or visit Dr Thandi at 16 Bertha Street in Fransville.