Breast cancer awareness
Breast cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer for South African women of all races, with a lifetime risk of 1 in 27. The risk for breast cancer increases as a person gets older, but many women under 40 have been diagnosed with breast cancer.
Although male breast cancer is rare, Breast Health Foundation recorded that in South Africa, 1-3% of all breast cancers happen in men. According to the latest data from the National Cancer Register, men have a 1 in 943 lifetime risk of developing breast cancer. Many men don't know they can get breast cancer. They may not notice a change, think it’s not important and may be embarrassed to say anything. This can delay diagnosis. As a result, breast cancers may be found later in men. The male breast is much smaller than the female breast making it more likely that cancer will spread to the chest wall.
Fact sheet for male breast cancer.
You can lower your cancer and health risk by cutting out lifestyle factors that increase your cancer risk. Learn to recognise warning signs. Annual medical check-ups and cancer screening appointments can help early detection, as symptoms don’t always present until cancer has spread.
There’s a lot you can do, not only to help yourself but also to spread awareness about breast cancer.
Early detection and self-examination are important
For women, monthly breast self-examination 2 days after the last day of their period is an important screening method. Women over the age of 45 should consider going for a regular mammogram. Younger women have denser breast tissue and would benefit more from an ultrasound examination than a mammogram.
Family history plays an important role in determining how prone someone is to developing cancer. This is especially true for immediate family members (mom, father or sister) who were diagnosed at a relatively young age. Be sure to discuss all these issues and concerns with your doctor.
You need to know what’s normal for your body. Be aware of symptoms of cancer, as early detection improves the chances of successful treatment. It's suggested that you do a simple monthly breast self-exam to check your breasts for lumps or anything that seems unusual.
Risk factors for breast cancer
Early detection of breast cancer can improve survival.
The most common sign of breast cancer is a new lump or mass. A painless lump that is hard and has uneven edges is more likely to be cancer. Some cancers are tender, soft and rounded. You need to have anything unusual checked by a doctor. The signs and symptoms for men and women are the same.
Other possible signs of breast cancer can include:
To treat your cancer, you may have one or more of the following treatments:
Lifestyle changes that may minimise your risk
Get screened today
The Western Cape Government has Breast Clinics at the following hospitals:
Groote Schuur Hospital (GSH) Outpatient Department Breast Clinic
You can find more information about the Groote Schuur Hospital Breast Clinic here.
Tygerberg Hospital Breast and Endocrine Clinic
You can find more information about the Tygerberg Hospital Breast Clinic here. (This Tygerberg Hospital Breast Clinic uses the VULA Mobile app for referrals).
Referral system of new patients to the Breast and Endocrine clinic:
Patients are referred to the Breast and Endocrine clinic via the VULA app for new breast and endocrine patients and via email for new soft tissue patients firstname.lastname@example.org.
One of the clinic’s medical officers will reply to the referral within 3 days with either an appointment date or redirection for referral to the correct department or hospital.
Inpatient referrals are discussed with the registrar on call. All patients are referred by a doctor.
With the VULA Mobile app, it allows the doctors at the Breast and Endocrine clinic to assess if a referral is for the clinic or if the referral is for another discipline/clinic. This also allows doctors to communicate via a chat function.
Patients who present with a lump of the breast can also be referred for a Fine Needle Aspiration at the Fine Needle Aspiration clinic on the 10th floor at Tygerberg hospital. No appointment needed: It's open from 11h00 - 13h00 (Mondays - Fridays).
If the FNA is suspicious, the patient will be redirected to the referring doctor and they are responsible for making an appointment via VULA if needed. The hospital drainage areas for Tygerberg Hospital are Khayelitsha, Karl Bremer, Eersteriver, Paarl and Worcester.
Breast and Endocrine Clinic
Tel: 021 938 5203/5210/5205
Mitchells Plain Hospital Breast Clinic
Mitchells Plain Hospital Breast Clinic
Tel: 021 377 4333
If you or one of your friends has been diagnosed with breast cancer, these organisations can offer support: