October, the month of solidarity and awareness about breast cancer

     
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October is the month in which people, institutions, Ngos, companies and monuments adopt the pink color as a way to give strength to the campaign for prevention and awareness about the early diagnosis of breast cancer: the October rose.

Despite the campaigns and the great dissemination on the subject every year, there are still many doubts and apprehension about breast cancer. Although it is a disease that requires intense treatment, talking about the subject can help clarify the myths and truths and make women safer by decreasing the fear associated with it. The good news is that one in three cases can be cured if it is discovered early on. Therefore, it is essential to talk about the subject with friends and family, as everyone can help.


OCTOBER PINK

October is known worldwide as the month in which actions occur related to the prevention and early diagnosis of breast cancer. The movement, known as October Rosa, is celebrated annually since the years 90. The campaign is used to share information about breast cancer and, more recently, about cervical cancer. The idea is to promote awareness of diseases, provide greater access to diagnostic services and contribute to the reduction of mortality.

The name of the campaign refers to the color of the loop that is the international symbol used by people, companies and organizations that support the movement. It is for this reason that during this month the pink color illuminates the façade of several public and private institutions that adhere to the movement, as one of the main sights of Rio de Janeiro and Brazil: The Christ the Redeemer (photo below).


THE DISEASE

Breast cancer is the result of the multiplication of abnormal breast cells, which form a tumor with potential to invade other organs. Some types of tumors develop rapidly. Others, slowly. But in most cases, there is good response to treatment, especially when the disease is diagnosed early on.  It is worth remembering that early diagnosis is still the greatest ally for the treatment to be effective. When identified early it can be treated soon, preventing the tumor from spreading.

Breast cancer is the most common type, after non-melanoma skin, according to the National Cancer Institute (INCA), accounting for about 28% of new cases each year. In Brazil, in 2017, there were 16,724 deaths caused by the disease. INCA estimates that, in 2019, 59,700 new cases appear. Breast cancer also affects men, but it is rare, representing only 1% of all cases.



SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS

Most breast cancers are discovered by women themselves. Regardless of age, they are able to know your body to know what is normal on your breasts. Therefore, it is important that women observe their breasts whenever possible, such as bathing, at the time of changing clothes or in another situation of daily life. Looking in the mirror and touching them is very efficient to recognize your natural variations and identify suspicious changes.

Main signs and symptoms:

  • Lump (nodule) fixed, hardened and generally painless;
  • Skin of the reddish breast, withdrawn or similar to orange peel;
  • Breast nipple changes;
  • Small nodules in the region under the arms (armpits) or neck;
  • Spontaneous Nipple Fluid Output


If they identify any changes, women should immediately seek a health service, as a post, to receive guidance.

Besides being attentive to the body itself, it is also recommended that women from 50 to 69 years do a screening mammography (when there are no signs or symptoms) every two years. This exam can help identify cancer before the onset of symptoms. Mammography is a breast radiography made by an X-ray equipment called a mammograph, capable of identifying suspicious alterations. Women with high risk should talk to their doctor to assess whether they should do other exams.

HOW TO PREVENT

According to the Ministry of Health, about 30% of breast cancer cases can be avoided with the adoption of healthy habits, such as practicing physical activity regularly, having a healthy diet, not being overweight, avoiding alcoholic beverages and breastfeeding.

It is noteworthy that breast cancer does not have only one cause. Age is one of the most important risk factors for the disease (four out of five cases occur after 50 years). Learn about other factors that increase risk.

AFFECTION IS PART OF THE TREATMENT

The Breast Friends program highlights the importance of affection as a strategy for women to overcome the difficulties of treatment. The tensions between the diagnosis and the search for Cure were recorded in the documentary "Friends of the Breast: networks of affections in care", produced by the Ministry of Health with patients of the Hospital Federal Cardoso Fontes, located in Rio de Janeiro. The video recorded the patient routine at the hospital and day by day. Click here to watch.

WIGS BANK

There are several institutions around the world with important initiatives that support the cause and effectively help women who have the disease. One of them is the Lace Rose Foundation, which created a free online wigs bank. The project helps to rescue the self-esteem of women with hair loss during chemotherapy. Patients with any type of cancer, anywhere in Brazil, can request a free wig. Learn more.

Now that you have a lot of information, how about sharing with your friends this booklet made by the National Cancer Institute? Access here.


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