Home Health Breast Cancer: Mothers Who Do Not Breastfeed At Highest Risk — Expert

Breast Cancer: Mothers Who Do Not Breastfeed At Highest Risk — Expert


By Folasade Akpan
Abuja, – Dr Olubunmi Olatunji, the Chief Consultant Radiologist, National Hospital, Abuja (NHA),
says mothers who do not breastfeed their babies at all are five times more at risk of contracting breast cancer than other women.

Olatunji disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on the sidelines of the Walk and Talk,
organised by the hospital’s departments of radiology, radiotherapy and oncology to commemorate the Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

NAN reports that October has been designated as the Pink Month in a global effort to raise awareness and support early detection and treatment of
breast cancer.

According to Olatunji, being a woman in the first place is even the highest risk of contracting the disease, although it also occurs in men but it is not common.

She explained that women who breastfeed but not exclusively for six months are also at risk of contracting the disease.

She said “some categories of women at risk of breast cancer are the obese, those who take alcohol, smoke and live sedentary
lifestyle without moving around at intervals or engage in exercise to burn off fat.

“Woman who has not given birth to a child, that is what we call nulliparity, is also at risk.

“Others are women who have children at elderly age, which we call elderly primigravida, meaning a woman’s first pregnancy at 35 years
and above; such women are risk of developing breast cancer.

“We are not saying that the above are causes of cancer because the cause of cancer is unknown; they are just risk factors; things that we
found to be common in people who have been diagnosed with cancer.”

The chief consultant radiologist also said that “present statistics indicate that one in every eight women have the disease as against one
in every nine women in 2004, indicating an increase.”

She said that the statistics may have gotten worse because there is increased awareness now and more women get tested, as more
diagnosis are being conducted.

On treatment, she said a lot of things could be done once one is diagnosed with breast cancer, adding that “it is not a death sentence;
there are lots of treatment options available.

“We have chemotherapy, radiotherapy, surgery to removal of the lump or the breast and that is
why we always recommend early detection at the pre-malignant stage before it becomes malignant.

“If it is treated at that stage, one can even live cancer-free and not have the cancer cells again.”

Olatunji, however, said there are other breast diseases that are not cancerous, such as the fibro adenoma, breast cyst and abscess.

According to her, fibro adenoma can have malignant transformation so it is always advisable to continue to see a doctor.

“It is very important that you do your self breast examination, and if you are married your husband can help you, then we have the clinical breast examination that you do every year by a trained medical personnel.

“We also have mammography, which is the x-ray of the breast that you do once you are 40 years and above.”

Dr Uchechukwu Shagaya, the Head, Radiotherapy and Oncology Department, said breast cancer sometimes has no
visible symptoms or signs, which is why screening once in a year is very important.

“Check your breast every month immediately after your menstrual cycle and then go and get screened so that it can be detected early.

“This is because when it does it could be a breast lump, a change in skin texture or rash or redness, a swelling, breast discharge or swelling in the armpit or around the collar bone.

“For the men, get your wives, mothers and sisters screened, check your wife’s breast.

“Anybody who has breast can have breast cancer; even men, young girls as young as 17 or women as old as 85 years, as long as you have breast, you are at risk of breast cancer; so, let us do the right thing.

“If you find a breast lump by self examination, go to hospital for biopsy and once that is done and sent to the pathologists, they will know what to do but please do not ignore it.”

Shagaya said that the month of October is breast cancer awareness month and that the staff of both departments came out in pink with the aim of making breast cancer a topic that every woman in the hospital should be aware of.(NAN)

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