Everything you need to know about breast cancer and how we can combat it starting now

Natasha Rahman discusses what you should know about breast cancer

Every year over 25,000 women get contracted with breast cancer in Bangladesh. In honour of the breast cancer awareness month, we want women to know they aren’t alone in this fight against breast cancer. With that in mind, we’ve put together a guide to help you take precautions to prevent yourselves from falling victim to breast cancer. Let’s unite and try to spread the message to eradicate this phenomenon as much as possible
There are many risk factors that increase the chance of developing breast cancer, but the reasons are still unknown as to how some of these factors cause cells to become cancerous. Sometimes normal breast cells become cancerous because of mutated DNA. This is usually inherited and can exponentially increase the risk of certain types of cancer. However, most of these changes in DNA are usually acquired during a woman’s life, and less when inherited. We are prone to believe that breast cancer only happens in developing countries but studies show otherwise. Breast cancer rates are much higher in developed nations where women are the most affected by this disease. Let’s look at some of the causes below.

Life expectancy
In developed countries, women tend to live longer than women in developing countries. Some studies find that the possibility of breast cancer in elderly women is more likely than in younger women. Women over 50 or after they have had their menopause face an acute risk of cancer and should get screened immediately

Family lineage
If your immediate relatives have ovarian or breast cancer, your chances of developing one shoots up as well. Particular genes such as BRCA1 and BRCA2 may increase this risk further. Also, as breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, more than one member of the family can have it as well.

Lifestyle and eating habits
Lifestyles and food habits are sometimes contributing factors to cancer. In developed nations, pesticides and hormones in packaged food does more harm to our body than good. The more overweight you are, the more insulin and estrogen are produced by the body stimulating the growth of cancer cells.

What should we do?
Avoid birth-control pills as much as possible
Women in their 20s suffer low risks from being on the pill compared to women in their 50s. The risk of strokes and heart attacks increase while on the pill, even more if the woman smokes.

Stay on top of mammograms and eat healthy
Although it doesn’t help prevent cancer totally, but mammograms can easily detect cancer at its early stages when treatment is possible. Regular mammograms may begin when you are 40, but that again depends on risk factors and health conditions.
The Bangladesh Cancer Society and The National Cancer Institute runs awareness programs regularly throughout the year. As the stats show the risk of breast cancer, it’s paramount for women to keep their health in check and visit the doctors should they feel the symptoms. The symptoms to keep in mind are swelling in the breast, a nipple discharge that isn’t breast milk, lump near the underarms and skin dimpling. Better to be safe than sorry!
As the month of awareness is here, community leaders, doctors, and more importantly women should do whatever they can to spread the message and help bring down the staggering numbers of breast cancer.