Regular Self-Exams Key to Detecting Breast Cancer


October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Consultant Hematologist/ Oncologist at the Jamaica Cancer Society (JCS), Dr. Sheray Ward-Chin is reminding women to conduct regular self-examination to increase the changes of detecting and successfully treating the disease in its early stages.
Speaking on Wednesday (Oct. 13) at a JIS Think Tank, Dr. Ward-Chin said that while there is no cure for breast cancer, as with all cancers, early detection remains the key to an extended life.
“If it is diagnosed early, a woman can live a normal life. Unfortunately, if it diagnosed in the late stages, after it has spread from the breast to other organs such as the liver, the lungs, or the bone, we can give treatment to control the disease and to help women to live a little longer, but in those cases, unfortunately, these women will die from their disease,” she pointed out.
According to Dr. Ward-Chin, breast cancer remains the number one killer among Jamaican women, and over the past few years, the incidence of the disease in Jamaica has been estimated at about 40 per 100,000 of the population.
“This works out to about one thousand plus women per year being diagnosed. Unfortunately, about 400 or so will die from breast cancer per year,” she revealed, adding, that, worldwide, about one million breast cancer cases are diagnosed every year, and more than 400,000 die from the disease.
She noted that while breast cancer usually affects women in their 60s, quite a few young women have the disease, so it is important that women begin to conduct regular self-breast examinations from as early as 20 years old, in order to better detect any changes in the appearance and texture of their breasts.
“It is important that women realise what is normal for them so that if an abnormality is felt later on, they can go to their doctor to have it checked out quickly,” she advised.
Dr. Ward-Chin informed that the self-examinations can be done every month after the monthly period when the breast tends to be less tender and it is easier to pick up on abnormalities, which include changes in the skin of the breast, thickening, reddening, any discharge from the nippple, palpation or feeling a hard lump or mass in the breast.
She also recommended that women pay regular visits to clinicians to have their breasts examined.
The JCS, as part of activities to mark Breast Cancer Month, is offering free yoga classes at its headquarters at 16 Lady Musgrave Road, Kingston. On Friday, October 15, which is World Mammography Day, the JCS will extend opening hours from 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m, with a five per cent discount on the cost of all mammograms.
“We encourage women to come because we don’t turn anyone away who is unable to pay for mammogram. It is part of our mandate to fight and defeat cancer in all its forms,” noted Fund Raising and Public Relations Officer, JCS, Shullian Brown.
Meanwhile, a breast cancer medical symposium will be held on Sunday, October 24 at Mona Visitor’s Lodge from 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., while on Thursday, October 28 the annual breast cancer luncheon will be held at 12:30 p.m. at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel. Tickets are on sale at the JCS at a cost of $3,500.
The month of activities will culminate with the Denise Thwaites 5-kilometre run/walk in collaboration with the Jamaica Reach to Recovery at the Stadiuim East, starting at 6:15 a.m.
“This is one of the greater ways that the Reach to Recovery arm of survivors raises funds. They help persons, who are unable to pay for their medication and their treatment by funds that they raise from the event annually,” Ms. Brown explained.
Breast Cancer Month activities got underway on Sunday, October 3 with a Church Service at the Church of the Open Bible, Washington Boulevard. On October 5, the Yoplait ‘Save Lids Save Lives Campaign’ was launched, from which at least $700,000 from local sales of Yoplait yogurt will be donated to the JCS.

JIS Social