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Both Men and Women are Susceptible to Breast Cancer.


 

Breast Cancer Awareness (Photo: Breast Cancer Foundation)

According to the Ministry of Health website, breast cancer is the third most frequent cancer in New Zealand, accounting for more than 600 deaths per year. Every year, around 3300 New Zealand females and approximately 25 males are diagnosed with breast cancer.

What is breast cancer?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines breast cancer as a condition in which the breast cells multiply uncontrollably. These cells divide and grow faster than normal cells and start to clump together to create a lump. They may then spread (metastasise) via the breast to the lymph nodes or other parts of the body.

Breast cancer in women.

According to the Breast Cancer Foundation NZ, women aged 20 and above should be aware of the appearance and feel of their breasts. Debra Leutenegger, a community breast health educator, told Indian Newslink that “about nine women are diagnosed with breast cancer every day and it is very important for women age 20 and above to do self-examination and those above 40 to do mammograms.”

Being breast aware can help detect cancer sooner. Breast cancer is most curable when detected early. Feeling for changes is the purpose of self-checking. This might be a lump, a thicker region, or anything that feels different from the rest of the breasts. Any changes must be reported to the doctors immediately. The Breast Cancer Foundation NZ  website gives clear guidance on how self-examination should be done.

Though breast cancer in women under the age of 40 is uncommon (approximately 5%), their cancer is more aggressive.

According to studies, 5% to 10% of breast cancer incidences in women are hereditary, and over 70% of all breast cancer occur in women over the age of 50.

Mammogram.

Breast Cancer Foundation NZ recommends regular mammograms for women aged 40 and above. A mammogram is a breast x-ray that can detect small breast tumours even before a lump is felt. The smallest cancer detected by routine mammography is 2mm and the average size of cancer detected is 14.5mm whilst the size found by chance is 22mm. Screen-detected malignancies are also more likely to be treated without removing the whole breast. Studies show that Overall, 85% of women with breast cancer live for 10 years or more (95% if identified on screening mammography).

Mammogram Machine (Photo: Health New Zealand)

Women aged 45 to 69 can register with BreastScreen Aotearoa which provides free mammograms every 2 years. New Zealanders can also call 0800 270 200 for an appointment.

Breast cancer in men.

Male Breast Cancer (Photo: Breast Cancer Foundation)

Breast cancer in men is the same as it is in women. Although the majority of the available material is geared towards women, it is typically applicable to males as well.  The diagnosis, treatment, and survival rates for both sexes are relatively similar. All men should be aware of the signs of breast cancer and report any changes to their doctor. Most men do not think about breast cancer when they see a change in their breasts, which might delay diagnosis. Learning the signs of male breast cancer can help in early detection and prognosis. Visit BCAC Breast Cancer Aotearoa Coalition for more information on breast cancer for men.

Pre-Check App

The Breast Cancer Foundation NZ has a pre-check app that can be downloaded on mobile phones. This app guides users on what is normal and what to look for as signs of cancer.

Pre-Check App (Photo: Breast Cancer Foundation NZ)

Malini Yugendran is an Indian Newslink correspondent based in Auckland.

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