Breast Cancer Awareness Month: What you need to know about breast cancer

By Lydia Winda

The month of October is global breast cancer awareness month which is geared at creating awareness about breast cancer and showing solidarity with cancer survivors, those we have lost to breast cancer and those who have lost their loved ones to breast cancer. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women globally and the second most common cancer overall after lung cancer in both developed and developing countries, low – and – middle – income countries. This can be attributed to increase in life expectancy and the adoption of a western lifestyle. There were over 2 million new cases of breast cancer worldwide in 2018. In Kenya, there are 28,000 cases diagnosed annually.

Both men and women can get breast cancer, but it is more common among women. Some of the signs and symptoms of breast cancer include:

  • Inverted nipple or pain in the nipple area;
  • Redness or flaky skin on the breast or nipple area;
  • Discharge from the nipple that is not milk including blood;
  • A sudden change in the size or shape of the breast;
  • A new lump in the breast or armpit;
  • Dimpling or irritation of breast skin;
  • Pain in any area of the breast.

    Risks of Breast Cancer

  • Being a woman.
  • Early menstruation mostly for people who got their first before the age of 12.
  • Being older. Most breast cancer cases are among women above the age of 50.
  • Consumption of alcoholic drinks.
  • Smoking.
  • Getting your first child after the age of 35.
  • Genetic predisposition (runs in the family genes).
  • Never being pregnant.
  • Women who do not start menopause until after the age of 55.
  • Having dense breast tissues.


    Breast self-exam is important for early detection of a lump. This can be done through a mammogram or a breast ultrasound. Your doctor can also recommend an MRI and biopsy to determine its presence and extent. Try and get as much information and knowledge about the diagnosis.

    Early diagnosis of breast cancer is highly encouraged for early diagnosis to mitigate morbidity and mortality associated with it. Breast cancer survival rates have increased, and the number of deaths associated with this disease is steadily declining, largely due to factors such as earlier detection, a new personalized approach to treatment and a better understanding of the disease.

    Breast self-examination chart

    A breast self-exam can help screen for; check for tumors, cysts and other abnormalities in the breasts.

    Adopted from;, ,

    Prevention of breast cancer

  • Avoid alcohol or drink in moderation.
  • Exercise regularly and keep a healthy weight.
  • If you are on hormonal contraceptives or hormonal therapy, ask your doctor about the risks.
  • Diet rich in calcium might reduce the risk of premenopausal breast cancer.
  • Eat healthy and nutritious diets.
  • Consumption of dairy products can help reduce premenopausal breast cancer.
  • Breastfeed your children if possible.
  • Managing stress and having good social connections and relationships.
  • clear your mind of all negative beliefs, unhealthy unfinished businesses, grudges, regrets, blame and live your life.
  • Annual medical checkups on cholesterol levels, blood pressure, cardiovascular system, sugars, inflammations etc.


    Studies have shown that psychosocial support is vital for breast cancer patients right from diagnosis throughout their treatment period. The need of psychosocial support is attributed to psychological distress, fears, pain, cognitive, social and functional problems that have been documented in many studies.

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