Pink October: prevention of breast cancer

The movement internationally known as October Pink appeared in 1990, when the first Healing Race took place in New York, and since then it has been promoted annually in the city. The name of the movement refers to the color of the pink ribbon that symbolizes the fight against breast cancer and encourages the participation of the population, companies and entities in the cause.

The Pink October main objective is to alert women and society about the importance of prevention and early diagnosis of breast cancer, in addition to attention and care for the body itself.

Awareness campaigns

In Brazil, the October Rosa awareness campaigns have been running since 2002. However, medical experts pointed out, in a survey presented at ISPOR (International Society For Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research) in 2017, that even though awareness is very important, it is care must be taken with the messages released during this period.

An analysis of posts made on networks such as Facebook and Twitter showed that there is still a lot of misinformation in awareness campaigns, especially about self-examination, which is not considered sufficient for the early detection of the disease.

Touching her own body and recognizing signs of possible changes is an important tool for empowering women towards their own health, but it is not a substitute for mammography, for example. Data from the National Cancer Institute José Alencar Gomes da Silva (INCA) show that only 2.5 million mammograms were performed in 2014, equivalent to a rate of 24.8%, much less than the 70% recommended by the World Health Organization. Health (WHO).

Early detection of the disease is the most effective way to fight it. Therefore, conducting a mammography exam and making periodic visits to your doctor are fundamental steps, since most breast cancer cases can be detected in early stages, increasing the chances of treatment and cure.

How to take care

In Brazil, the Ministry of Health recommends that screening mammography (when there are no signs or symptoms) be performed on women aged 50 to 69, at least once every two years. The Mastology Society, on the other hand, defends the exam to be done after 40 years of age.

However, for women who have a family history, annual mammography from the age of 35 is recommended. The family history is at least one first-degree relative – be it mother / father, sister (o) or daughter (o) – with a diagnosis of breast cancer, especially if before 50 years of age. Or some first-degree relative diagnosed with bilateral breast cancer or ovarian cancer, in any age group.

In addition, another very important exam to be performed frequently is breast ultrasound. The ultrasound examination is not a substitute for mammography, but it is also very important in detecting varied breast changes – especially in younger women, who are not yet old for mammography. Nodules, cysts, secretions in the nipples, thickening of the breast tissue, among other changes, are visible through this examination. The recommendation for women who have never had any breast problems and do not have any family history is to do the ultrasound once a year, from the age of 25.

In addition, maintaining healthy habits along with the practice of physical activities are also important factors to help with health in general. These habits impact our daily lives in an extremely positive way. Some studies prove that, even after discovering breast cancer, women who adopt good habits have a considerable reduction in mortality compared to women who continue with bad habits.

Be alert! Risk factors are considered:

Self exam

As previously mentioned, experts point out that, despite the great informative appeal, self-examination is not effective in detecting and cannot be a substitute for mammography. However, this is an important way of being attentive to your body and the changes presented in it, not only in October Pink, but always. Therefore, check how to perform the self-examination below:

In front of the mirror

– Without clothes, look at both breasts.

– First with the arms drooping.

– Then place your hands on your waist, pressing it to check if there is any change in the breast surface.

– Then, place them behind the head and observe the size, color and shape of the nipple, as well as bumps, bumps and roughness.

– Lightly press the nipple and see if there is a discharge of secretion.

During the bath *

– Lift your left arm and rest it on your head.

– With your right hand straight, examine your left breast in a circular motion movements.

– Divide the breast into strips² and slowly analyze each of these strips. Use the flesh of your fingers, not the tips or nails.

– Feel the breast.

– At the end of the palpation, press the nipples gently and observe if there is any liquid out.

– Repeat the movements on the other breast.

* Palpation of the breasts should be done during the bath, with a wet body and soapy hands to facilitate the identification of changes.

¹ First in the shape of circles that start at the nipple and grow to cover the entire breast.

² In straight lines towards the nipple and finally in straight lines up and down.

Lying down

– You should lie on your back.

– Place a folded pillow or towel under the right shoulder to examine the breast on that side, this increases the height of the shoulder and facilitates self-examination. Then, put your right arm over your head.

– Feel the breast with circular movements, applying light pressure.

– Feel the outer half of the breast.

– Then touch your armpits.

– Reverse the procedure for the left breast.

If you feel any lump or change in the texture or size of the breast, see a gynecologist. He will perform the clinical breast exam and may request a mammogram.

Pink October is also for men!

In addition to understanding the importance of the date and spreading as much information about prevention as possible, men need to know that breast cancer is not restricted to women only. Even with a lower incidence in cases, men can also present the disease. Possible signs of male breast cancer include:

– Lump or swelling, usually (but not always) painless.

– Wavy or wrinkled skin.

– Nipple retraction.

– Redness or flaking of the skin of the breast or nipple.

– Swelling in the axillary lymph nodes.

These changes are not always caused by cancer, but if you notice any changes in your breasts, see a doctor immediately so you can make the diagnosis as soon as possible.

We concluded then that carrying out campaigns that promote the Pink October is something very relevant and important. But, beyond that month, always try to talk mainly with the women around you about the necessary care to prevent breast cancer.

Talk about women’s health with your friends, mothers, sisters, wives or girlfriends, aunts and co-workers, as care and affection are never too much.

We hope this article has helped you. Remember that prevention is always the best option! Take care of yourself and also take care of the one you love.

 

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