I found a lump in my right breast one night in march 2018. I was talking to my friend on the phone, and instinctively touched my breast and felt a lump. I froze, was stunned and my head began to spin. I felt dizzy and couldn’t begin to imagine or believe what was happening to me; was it breast cancer? The next day, I had a doctor check and my fears were confirmed. I indeed had a lump in my breast.
I went through the process of seeing a radiologist for a scan then a surgeon, I was booked for surgery and within a week it was all done. Thankfully the lump was benign, but the emotional stress this put on my family and I was immense. It could have been a different story had I not found out early or acted earlier.
While we admonish women to have their breasts; boobs, boobies, tatas, tits (whatever you call it) screened for breast cancer during breast cancer awareness month, Its is important that this becomes a regular routine. The role of the breasts in reproduction cannot be overemphasized. During lovemaking its no secret how much of a quintessential sex organ the breasts are. Knowing what to do with them takes things a notch higher.
When a baby comes, the breasts are the ‘storehouse’ of food. But the canker which is cancer can ravage the breasts of women and cause significant morbidity and fatality. Cancer is an abnormal proliferation of cells; the cells grow out of control and destroy the normal body tissues. It can affect any part of the body.
Breast cancer is the topmost cancer among women. It is also among the top women killers. The incidence of breast cancer is higher in Africa and other low-income countries than their more developed counterparts. Africa bears about half of the worldwide cancer burden. More than half the women who are affected by breast cancer in Africa go on to die of the disease.
In Ghana, this story is no different. Breast cancer is the most common cause of cancer deaths among Ghanaian women. The rate of breast cancer incidence even though low, there is a higher case fatality rate than most countries around the world. This is due to the inadequate health infrastructure and attitudes, that does not support early detection and treatment. As well as poverty which reduces affordability of cancer treatment.
Breast cancer can be cured if detected early. Early breast cancer is mostly asymptomatic (show no symptoms) and can go undetected. But periodic breast examinations will go a long way to aid early breast cancer diagnosis. Screening for breast cancer is easy. A self-breast examination can be done with the guidance of a health worker, or a health personnel can perform it.
The early signs that are looked out for include lumps, change in size, change in nipple appearance, nipple discharge, changes in the appearance of the skin of the breast: whether pinched, dimpled or wrinkled. If the colour of the skin has changed, reddened and has increased temperature. etc. Hardening of the breast and appearance of prominent veins has also been listed as some of the signs.
The discovery of a lump in the breast is one of the easiest signs to pick. However, there are some lumps which remain invisible like in my case and can only be detected if you study and know your body well. I remember some of the doctors couldn’t feel mine till I directed their fingers.
Notwithstanding, not all lumps or changes are cancerous. Most lumps about eighty per cent of the time are benign. Discovering a lump or any abnormality in your breast could be scary, but its always better to find out early as early treatment saves life.