Breast Cancer Awareness Month | Western Cape Government

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

(Western Cape Government)
Breast Cancer Awareness Month is observed in October every year. According to the South African National Cancer Registry, one in 29 women in South Africa will be diagnosed with breast cancer. Breast cancer, like other types of cancers, is treatable when detected early. It is important for you to examine your breasts regularly and to go for medical check-ups.
Which Factors Increase the Chance of Getting Breast Cancer?

Alcohol: The use of alcohol has been linked to an increased risk of getting breast cancer.

Being Overweight or Obese: Obesity is linked to a higher risk of breast cancer, especially for post-menopausal women and if the weight gain took place during adulthood. Also, the risk seems to be higher if the extra fat is in the waist area. The link between weight and breast cancer risk is complex but health experts recommend that women maintain a healthy weight throughout life.

Lack of Exercise: Studies show that exercise reduces breast cancer risk. Health experts suggest that women should exercise for at least 30 minutes every day.

High-Fat Diets: Studies have shown that breast cancer is less common in countries where the typical diet is low in fat. A healthy low-fat diet includes five or more servings of vegetables and fruits each day, choosing wholegrain products and limiting the amount of processed and red meats.

Tobacco Smoke: Smoking is linked to breast cancer. This is another reason to stop smoking and to avoid being around second-hand smoke.

Symptoms of Breast Cancer

The most common sign of breast cancer is a new lump or mass. A lump that is painless, hard and has uneven edges is more likely to be cancer. But some cancers are tender, soft and rounded. It's important to have anything unusual checked by a doctor.

Other signs of breast cancer include the following:

  • Swelling of all or part of the breast.
  • Skin irritation or dimpling.
  • Breast pain.
  • Nipple pain or the nipple turning inward.
  • Redness, scaliness or thickening of the nipple or breast skin.
  • A nipple discharge other than breast milk.
  • A lump in the underarm area.

What is the Next Step if Breast Cancer is Detected?

Staging is the process of finding out how widespread the cancer is at the time it is found. The stage of a cancer is the most important factor in choosing a treatment option. The stage is based on the results of the physical exam, biopsy and other tests the doctor may have done.

The Western Cape Provincial Department of Health has embarked on a Women's Health Campaign. The campaign is targeting women from across the Western Cape, who will now be able to access any public health clinic in the province for cervical cancer and breast cancer screening, family planning assistance, antenatal care, contraceptive choices and chronic diseases management.

The aim of the Women's Health Campaign is to empower women to look after their health and well-being. The campaign continues to create heightened awareness and provides women in the province with a holistic approach to their health. In an effort to bolster this campaign, the department has also extended its operating hours of certain facilities to accommodate working women.

During the extended hours, patients will be seen for the following services:

  • Adult curative, promotive and preventative.
  • Antenatal care and family planning.
  • Screening for cervical cancer.
  • Communicable diseases.

The extended hours will continue even when the initiative has been concluded.

The Western Cape Government Department of Health offers safe and reliable services to women, which enables them to make wise choices about their body and their life. This makes it easier to look after women's health Better Together.

Important Contacts

Tel: 0800 22 66 22 (toll-free)
Fax: 021 689 1840

Should you need to go for a medical check-up, you can visit the Western Cape Provincial Department of Health facility nearest to you.

Information sourced from CANSA and

The content on this page was last updated on 15 March 2014