Among women living in Kuwait, breast cancer continues to be the most frequently diagnosed cancer with as many as 367 new cases diagnosed in 2009, more than twice as many as colorectal cancer. Breast cancer makes up one-fifth of the cancer cases diagnosed in 2009 and is the leading cause of cancer mortality among women as per the Kuwait Cancer Registry’s 2009 Report.
Signs and Symptoms
If any of these signs or symptoms is detected, a doctor should be seen as soon as possible:
- A lump in the breast or under the arm pit
- An inverted nipple
- Crusting or reddening of the nipple, or patchy areas on the nipple
- Discharge or bleeding from the nipple
- Changes to the shape and size of the breast
- Changes to the skin of the breast
- Changes in skin temperature of the breast
Experts agree that early detection is the key to cancer survival. Use the following guidelines to develop a screening schedule that is right for you:
- Self-examination is another importantaspect of early detection.
- Clinical examination by an expert (onceevery two years recommended for women over 40)
- Mammography (once every year recommended for women above age 40)
Family history can play a role in whether an individual will develop breast cancer. If any immediate family members have been diagnosed with breast cancer before menopause, be sure to alert your physician. He/she may adjust your screening schedule accordingly.
No one thing causes breast cancer, but there are a few common factors that seem to increase risk of developing it (please note that having these factors do not mean that you will get breast cancer, they only increase the risk):
- Family history of breast or ovarian cancer
- Early menstruation
- Late menopause
- Having taken hormone replacement therapy for more than five years
- Never having given birth
- Giving birth for the first time over the age of 30
- Dense breast tissue
- Radiation treatment to the chest area before age 30
- Being over the age of 50
- Obesity, alcohol consumption and the use of birth control pills may also slightly increase risk.
Breast cancer treatment and care today is so customized that a specialized treatment plan is tailored to the needs of the individual patient. Breast cancer treatment may include:
- A lumpectomy removes the tumor while conserving most of the breast.
- A mastectomy removes the entire breast and sometimes the lymph nodes.
- Radiation is used to treat many stages of breast cancer and frequently used after a lumpectomy.
- Biological therapy helps the body’s immune system fight cancer.
- Herceptin is used to treat human epidermal growth factor positive (HER2) tumors.
- Hormonal treatment is given to breast cancer patients who have estrogen and progesterone receptors on their cancer cells.
Information from the Kuwait Cancer Control Center and University Health Network partnership.