Have you had a breast cancer examination yet?

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JOBURG – Liberty’s Chief Medical Officer Dr Dominique Stott said that breast cancer doesn’t always present itself as a lump, so it’s a good idea to have a mammogram done.

A lot of plans have been cancelled this year, and  a number of women also cancelled their regular breast cancer screening because of the Covid-19 lockdown regulations.

Now that South Africa is on Level 1 of the lock-down restrictions, women are urged to check in on their health amid a rise in breast cancer cases worldwide.

Liberty’s chief medical officer, Dr Dominique Stott said early detection was key to surviving many cancers, and breast cancer was one of the most common cancers to be diagnosed in South African women.

“Breast cancer doesn’t always present itself as a lump, so it’s a good idea to have a mammogram done. If you notice any changes to your breasts such as a lump, skin or nipple changes or discharge, whether it is painful or not, you should see your doctor immediately,” said Stott.

According to Liberty’s 2019 claim statistics, 36 per cent of claims from women were for cancer. “The vast majority of breast cancer claims we have seen at Liberty are for stage one. Even stage one treatment can be expensive, not just medically, but also on your ability to manage your everyday life.”

Scott explained that the nature of treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation and surgery could mean an extended period of recuperation, which could mean you’re not working during this time. This could mean a loss of income, adding anxiety and stress on top of having to cope with a potentially life-threatening illness.

“Research shows that 95 per cent of women with stage one breast cancer are cancer-free five years later. This highlights the importance of health check-ups and vigilance no matter your age – particularly in going for regular mammograms as indicated by your doctor.”

Stott advised, “If members of your family have had a breast or ovarian cancer diagnosis, then your risk could be higher. Other risk factors include obesity post-menopause, having a child later in life, or no children at all, dense breast tissue, alcohol consumption, inactivity and some forms of HRT.

“Given that the lifetime risk of breast cancer in South Africa [according to Cansa] is 1 in 25 women, it is essential all women are prepared for it.”

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