Cancer is an ominous word. A scary word. Unfortunately, it is also a very common word. Virtually everyone knows someone who has cancer. Virtually everyone has lost someone to it. Cancer is the second leading cause of death in Pakistan, surpassed only by heart disease.
February 4th was World Cancer Day. It is a good opportunity to day to talk about cancer and the havoc it causes in so many lives. According to data from the Punjab Cancer Registry, cancer of the breast is the most common type of cancer in Pakistan. It is important to make women aware of the risk of breast cancer, and the importance of detecting it early.
|Here are some important facts about breast cancer:
1. You Don’t Need Many Risk Factors
Unlike lung cancer and smoking, there is no one overwhelming risk factor for breast cancer. In fact, the biggest risk factor for developing breast cancer is simply being a woman! No, I have not lost my mind. It is true. While men can develop breast caner, it is about 100 times more common in women. In fact, studies suggest that one in eight women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. And most of those women who do develop breast cancer do not have any family history of breast cancer.
That is why it is important to know that any woman can get breast cancer. You don’t have to be a certain age or belong to a certain family to get it.
2. Early Detection is Key
It is sad whenever a woman loses her battle against breast cancer. It is sadder still when the battle could have been won, if only she had spoken up about the mass she felt in her breast. Many women don’t want to draw attention to themselves and their medical needs. The reasons vary; some are shy to talk about their illness, while others don’t want to put a burdon on the family’s resources. Unfortunately, when the mass doesn’t go away and these women finally do visit the doctor, it is often very late. Cancer which might have been curable a few months earlier has by then spread beyond the breast.
It is important to do away with the taboo of talking about breast cancer. It is important for women to come forward as soon as they feel a lump in the breast.
3. There is Life After Cancer
A diagnosis of cancer is not the end of the story. Not anymore. There have been many significant advances made in the treatment of cancer. There are all sorts of treatment options that doctors can use to fight breast cancer. From surgery to radiation therapy, and from hormonal manipulation to targeted gene therapy, there are a host of treatment options.
Do you know someone who has cancer? How did they cope? What are some suggestions you can give to people fighting cancer?