News

Minister Mbombo marks Breast Cancer Awareness month in Mitchell Plain

1 October 2018

Today, Dr Nomafrench Mbombo marked Breast Cancer Awareness month at Mitchells Plain Hospital along with PinkDrive.

Throughout this month we will intensify our drive to raise awareness of this debilitating disease on not only female population, but also the under-emphasized diagnosis in men as well.

Breast cancer has an age-standardised incidence rate of 27 per 100 000 women, and is a major cause of cancer mortality, accounting for 16% of cancer deaths among women.

The reality is that the incidence of breast cancer among South African women is increasing and it is one of the most common cancers among women in this country.

The number of patients seen at our symptomatic breast clinics during April 2017 - Mar 2018 comes to 7536. In 608 of these cases positive breast cancers were identified.

At Groote Schuur Hospital (GSH) between 10 and 20 new breast cancers are diagnosed every week.​ We have seen an overall increase of 6.8% of new cancers, and most alarming is the increase in the diagnosis of cancer in women under the age of 30.

Global statistics site that 1 in 8 women get breast cancer. In the Western Cape this is approximately 1 in 12.

Typically, women with breast symptoms self-present to primary healthcare, and that is why service at this level is so important.

The facts about breast cancer:

  • Every 2 minutes a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer.
  • 1 In every 8 women who reach the age of 85 and would’ve overcome breast cancer in their lifetime.
  • 70% of all breast cancer cases are discovered by breast self-examinations.
  • 8 Out of 10 times, lumps aren’t cancerous.
  • A mammogram can detect breast cancer as much as 2 years before it is large enough to feel.
  • Every woman is at risk for developing breast cancer; this risk increases as women grow older.

“I would like to encourage females, as well as males, to get screened for breast cancer as early as possible. Early detection is vital to get onto treatment so as to improve prognosis. Recently, we have seen an increase in males diagnosed with cancer. If you have a history of breast cancer in the family, please go to your nearest facility to get screened. The screening services are also offered through initiatives like Pink Drive, who visit Mitchells Plain Hospital and GSH intermittently.” Says Minister Mbombo

Family history plays an important role in contracting the disease.  Especially first degree relatives (mom/sister) who were diagnosed at a relatively young age are important to mention to your doctor.

Women’s biggest risk factor for developing breast cancer is being a woman, and having a breast.. The signs are the same for men and women: a breast lump with skin changes and/or a nipple discharge.

Signs and Symptoms

There are specific signs/symptoms you should look out for. The most common presenting complaint is that of a palpable lump in the breast.

These lumps are often not painful. Other signs may include a bloody nipple discharge, skin changes and palpable lymph nodes in the axilla.

Early breast cancers may be picked up by ultrasound or mammography before a lump can be felt.

Early detection and self-examination is vital

For women, monthly breast self-examination two days after the last day of your period is the most important screening method and costs nothing.

If you are not sure how to perform breast self-examination, ask your doctor to show you how. 

Women over the age of 45 should consider going for regular mammography. Depending on each individuals unique risk profile, mammography should be discussed with your doctor.

Younger women have denser breast tissue and would benefit more from an ultrasound examination than a mammogram.  ​

Male breast cancer is rare, so routine screening mammograms (mammography) generally aren't recommended for men.

If you have a strong family history of breast cancer, consider talking to your doctor about developing a breast-screening program. A simple monthly breast self-exam is suggested to check your own breasts for lumps or anything that seems unusual.

Treatment

Great strides have been made in the treatment of breast cancer. If detected early, breast cancer patients now have an excellent prognosis.

No two individuals are the same though and many factors will influence survival including the age of the patient, tumour characteristics, the stage of the disease and the treatment plan chosen by the patient.

Once you are diagnosed, several treatment options are available to you. Treatment differs for each individual patient depending on the stage of cancer and tumour characteristics of the cancer, which is why your doctor will discuss the relevant treatment plan with you in detail.

Lifestyle changes that may minimise the risk of contracting the disease.

  • Healthy diet with a normal BMI
  • Exercise,
  • stop smoking,
  • and use alcohol in moderation.
  • Have your children before the age of 30 if possible and breastfeed.
Media Enquiries: 

Colleen Smart
Spokesperson to Minister Mbombo
Mobile: 072 825 3257
E-mail: colleen.smart@westerncape.gov.za
Western Cape Government: Health