This October, as we celebrate National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I join the call of experts and advocates for women to learn more about this disease and how to protect themselves against it.
Amid the rising incidence of breast cancer today, with 1 out of 8 women likely to develop the disease according to Dr. Omid Uy Etemadi of the Cancer Survivorship Center in Cebu, early detection is the more crucial.
The first step to detecting the disease early is for women to learn how to correctly examine their breasts for irregularities and to do the self exams monthly, said Etemadi, adding that the overall survival rate is more than 90 percent. The rationale behind doing the self exam regularly is you know what normal feels like so any change is easy to detect.
With such positive prognosis, I agree with breast cancer survivor Mary Anne Alcordo-Solomon that no one should die of the disease today.
Solomon is active in ICanServe, a foundation that aims to raise awareness of the disease. The foundation’s partnership with Ayala Center Cebu started four years ago under the efforts of Solomon and gave rise to the Think Pink campaign every October.
This October, Ayala plays host to several activities aimed at raising the awareness of mall goers as well as raise funds for ICanServe and Kythe Foundation.
Dr. Dennis Tudtud of the Philippine Society of Medical Oncology said developments in cancer care over the years have led to emphasis not just on immediate treatment but on the continuum of care for survivors.
According to Etemadi, this is because it has been observed that if survivors adopt a healthy lifestyle, eat the right kinds of food, and undertake fitness activities, the recurrence of the cancer is reduced by more than 50 percent. Etemadi and Tudtud talked about breast cancer updates during the launching of the breast cancer awareness drive at Ayala Center Cebu.
Saying that women over 40 should get mammograms, a procedure that involves taking low-energy x-rays of the breasts, Etemadi said newer machines have plastic pressers that are less painful.
Also, Etemadi added, developments over the last 10 years have provided women a lot of options, and if the disease is caught in the early stages, treatment is more benign and less painful.