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THERE are a lot of things that we would rather not discuss, mostly out of fear to what it could entail. It can be scary to acknowledge the existence of something, especially if this ‘something’ is what you would have to live with. Severe health problems such as cancer is one of them. However, leaving important questions out of the discussion does not bode well for anyone. It’s time we have the talk.
Knowledge is power, therefore we should get acquainted with all the facts to keep our body healthy and strong. Cancer, for instance, is nothing but an abnormal growth of cells which could continue to grow out of control. When this happens, old cells might not die and instead continue to form a tumour. However, cancer causes different reactions depending on the area it affects.
While there are many types of cancer, let us focus on the number-two ladies’ killer in the Kingdom, which is breast cancer. It is reported that an average of 1,255 new cases of breast cancer in women are reported annually, making it the second most fatal disease, following cervical cancer.
Breast cancer in men too
We know that breast cancer targets mostly women, but it could still happen to anyone with breast tissue — regardless of gender. As WebMD explains, the ‘breasts’ that an adult man has is the same as the ones of a girl before puberty. In girls, this tissue grows and develops, but in men, it doesn’t.
However, fret not, as it is rare for a man under the age of 35 to get breast cancer. A majority of breast cancer cases happen to men between the ages of 60 to 70. Despite this, do not take things for granted. If you have breasts, you should be suspicious of anything strange in that area.
How to reduce your risks
A slew of studies suggests that the risks of cancer can be lowered, provided you make vital lifestyle changes such as:
Low consumption of alcohol
Based on research on the effect of alcohol on breast cancer risk, it is suggested that there should be a limit of only one alcoholic drink a day. This is because a higher dosage, even by a little, would increase the risks by two-fold.
Stub out the ‘cancer sticks’
Cigarettes are called ‘cancer sticks’ for a reason – a cigarette contains various kinds of carcinogens or cancer-inducing substance or properties. As previously discussed, it adds no merit to your health, so it is time to say farewell to smoking.
Maintaining a healthy weight that matches your height
If you carry around more weight than recommended, you will increase your risk of health complications, including breast cancer. Women, especially, should be more concerned about obesity after hitting menopause.
Who knew breastfeeding has such a protective effect? It is reported that mothers who nurse for more than a year are less likely to be exposed to breast cancer risks. This is because lactation could delay menstruation, thus reducing exposure to cancer-linked hormones.
Simple ways to check yourself
The best way is still to undergo regular mammogram screenings to spot cancer symptoms clearly, if any, but you can also do more on your own. According to the Royal Phnom Penh Hospital, there are three simple methods for you to examine if your body is experiencing abnormal changes that would require medical attention. They are:
In the shower
You would need to use your hand and fingers to feel your breast. Using the pads of your fingers, move around the entire breast in a circular pattern, moving from the outside to the center
In front of a mirror
Visually inspect your breasts with your arms at your sides. Now, raise your arms and look for any changes in the contour, dimpling of the skin, any swelling, or changes in the nipples. Next rest your palms on your hips and press firmly to relax your chest muscles. Look for any dimpling, puckering, or changes.
When laying yourself down, put your right arm behind your head. Using your left hand, gently feel your right breast. Move the pads of your fingers around your right breast in small circular motions covering the entire breast area. Squeeze the nipple; check for discharge and lumps. Repeat these steps for your left breast.
When is it time to see a doctor?
If you did feel something, the next expected response would be to panic. Well, try your best to stay composed and calm while you seek a medical professional who can perform a more detailed assessment. Head on over to your nearest doctor if you noticed:
- a lump or hard knot
- pulling in of your nipple
- discharge from the nipple
- changes in the breasts’ shape or size
Protect yourself and your loved ones from breast cancer – while you can – by inquiring about AIA សម្រាប់ជីវិត (Samrab Chivit). It is a life insurance solution which covers 26 conditions of critical illnesses and medical operations both in Cambodia and overseas. For further enquiries, contact AIA Client Care service at 086 999 242.
Sources: Mayo Clinic, National Breast Cancer Foundation, WebMD, World Health Organization, Cancer Now, Royal Phnom Penh Hospital, Khmer Times, Calmette Hospital, American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund.