October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the team at Emirates Home Nursing is urging women across the UAE to get serious about breast health
The most common cancer affecting women globally, but with a survival rate of up to 90% if detected and treated early, breast cancer can be beaten.
Here, in the UAE, approximately 4,500 new cancer cases (all types) are detected each year, and by 2021 the Emirates hopes to reduce cancer fatalities by close to18% as part of the country’s National Agenda
CHECK IT OUT
For women over 40 years old, a mammogram every two years is the standard recommendation, or earlier – and annually – if there is family history, in addition to regular clinical breast examinations.
But for all women, the first step is monthly self-examination. Why so often? It’s only by regular examining ourselves that we learn how our breasts feel on a regular day – and therefore the chances of noticing something irregular are heightened.
WHEN SHOULD I DO IT?
Six to 10 days after the first day of your period (when your breasts are super tender or swollen). If you are post-menopausal or have had a hysterectomy, it’s a good idea to examine them on the same day each month.
WHAT ARE THE STEPS?
- Lie down on your back and place a pillow under your left or right shoulder
- Use the pads of your three middle fingers of the opposite hand to press using varying degrees of pressure, moving in a circular motion without lifting your fingers away from the breast
- Track an up and down pattern to ensure you don’t miss any areas
- As well as the breast, also check your armpit and above/below the collarbone
- You should also look at your breasts while standing in front of a mirror to look for any changes and can perform a self-examination while standing as an alternative
WHAT AM I LOOKING FOR?
- A lump, thickening or a hard knot
- Swelling of the breast, extra warmth you don’t normally feel, redness or change in breast skin colour
- Changes in the size or shape of your breast
- Dimpling or puckering of the skin
- Skin or nipple irritation: itching, a scaly rash, soreness or unexpected discharge
- Nipple retraction
- New, constant pain in a specific spot
If you do find something unusual, don’t panic (yes, we know that’s easy to say). It could be a fluid-filled lump, called a cyst, which are commonly found in the breast and benign.
CALL FOR SUPPORT
If you are diagnosed with breast cancer or are going through treatment, it can be a long, lonely and emotional experience.
The number one thing to remember is don’t tough it out alone and you are not alone. Reach out to family, friends, peers and local support groups for shared experiences, a listening ear, to get more insight into treatment options and to hear positive recovery stories.
In the UAE, there are several active groups to lean on for support from the non-profit Emirates Cancer Foundation, which offers information about all types of cancer; treatment to Breast Cancer Arabia, which also operates an online community support system.
Abu Dhabi based Bosom Buddies, which was set up over 15 years ago by a group of breast cancer survivors, holds monthly support meetings and Dubai based Brest Friends, which was founded by Dr Houriya Kazim, the first female UAE surgeon, is a go-to resource for information and support.
Pink Caravan, a pan-Emirates initiative does amazing work in spreading awareness and has an active calendar of events open to all. It also works to provide clinical check-ups and follow-ups for all female UAE residents.
THINK PINK WITH EMIRATES HOME NURSING
- In addition to our full suite of post-surgical and recovery support services, the team at Emirates Home Nursing will spread a message of support throughout October, starting with the wearing of pink ribbons – from our office administrators to our nurses out in the field.
- Our knowledgeable nurses will be raising general awareness and promoting early detection by handing out information leaflets to patients and their families.
- We will also be marking Pink Thursday on 14th October with the entire team wearing pink clothes and clinical manager, Doreen Setenane, giving a presentation to all employees on the importance of regular self-examination or clinical examination for early detection of breast cancer and a demonstration of the self-examination technique.
- Catch us on social media with our Pink Tip Tuesday with a new health tip or educational snippet related to breast cancer posted across all our social media platforms.