Educate

Breast cancer is a disease, not a curse
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women worldwide
Breast cancer is curable in 98% of cases if detected early

Education and Awareness is achieved via a year-long schedule of educational sessions and targeted messages via mass media. RFCA Ghana strives to develop and make available information in comprehensible manner to the benefit of the entire Ghanaian population, especially in rural communities.

  • What is Breast Cancer?

    What is cancer?

    In a healthy body, natural systems control the creation, growth and death of cells.Cancer occurs when these systems do not work right and cells do not die at the normal rate. There is more cell growth than cell death.This excess growth can form a tumor.

    What is breast cancer?

    Breast cancer occurs when cells in the breast divide and grow without their normal control.Tumors in the breast tend to grow slowly. By the time a lump is large enough to feel, it may have been growing for as long as 10 years. (Some tumors are aggressive and grow much faster.) Between 50-75 percent of breast cancers begin in the milk ducts, about 10-15 percent begin in the lobules and a few begin in other breast tissues

    Non-invasive breast cancer – ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS)When abnormal cells grow inside the milk ducts, but have not spread to nearby tissue or beyond, this is called ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). Although DCIS is non-invasive, without treatment, it can develop into invasive breast cancer.

    Invasive breast Cancer

    Invasive breast cancer occurs when abnormal cells from inside the milk ducts or lobules break out into nearby breast tissue.Cancer cells can travel from the breast to other parts of the body through the blood stream or the lymphatic system. They may travel early in the process when a tumor is small or later when a tumor is large. The lymph nodes in the underarm area (axillary lymph nodes) are the first place breast cancer is likely to spread.
    In advanced stages, breast cancer cells may spread to other parts of the body such as the liver, lungs, bones and brain (a process called metastasis). There, the breast cancer cells may again begin to divide too quickly and make new tumors. This is called metastatic breast cancer

    Breast cancer in men

    Breast cancer in men is rare, but it does happen.

    Other types of cancer that occur in the breast

    Most cancers that occur in the breast are breast cancers (breast carcinomas).In rare cases, other types of cancer such as lymphomas (cancer of the lymph system) and sarcomas (cancer of the soft tissues) can occur in the breast. And, in rare cases, cancers from other parts of the body can metastasize to the breast and mimic breast cancers.
    Other types of tumors in the breast can be benign (not cancer) or cancerous. Because these cancers are not carcinomas, treatment is different than treatment for breast cancer.For more information on other cancers that can occur in the breast, such as lymphomas and phyllodes tumors, visit the National Cancer Institute’s website.

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    *American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts and Figures 2016. Atlanta, GA: American Cancer Society, 2016, Susan G Komen race for the Cure

  • Main factors that increases the risk of breast cancer

    Age: The older a woman is, the more likely she is to get breast cancer.

    Age at first childbirth: Women who give birth to their first child at later ages are at increased risk of breast cancer compared to women who have their first child at younger ages. For example, women who give birth for the first time after age 35 are about 40 percent more likely to get breast cancer than women who have their first child before age 20

    Age at first period: Women who began their periods before age 12 have about a 20% higher breast cancer risk compared to those who began their periods after age 14

    Age at menopause: Going through menopause at a later age increases the risk of breast cancer. For example, studies show that women who go through menopause after age 55 have about a 30% higher risk of breast cancer than women who do so before age 45

    Alcohol: Alcohol can change the way a woman’s body metabolizes estrogen (how estrogen works in the body). This can cause blood estrogen levels to rise.

    Birth control Pill use: Current or recent use of birth control pills (oral contraceptives) slightly increases the risk of breast cancer (This extra risk, though, is quite small because the risk of breast cancer for most young women is low)

    Weight: Many studies link Body Mass Index (BMI) to breast cancer risk. However, BMI affects risk differently before and after menopause. Before menopause, being overweight or obese modestly decreases breast cancer risk, After menopause, being overweight or obese increases breast cancer risk

    Breast density: Women with high breast density are four to five times more likely to get breast cancer than women with low breast density. Breast density is not a measure of how the breasts feel, but rather how the breasts look on a mammogram.
    High breast density means there is a greater amount of breast and connective tissue compared to fat.

    Family history of breast, ovarian or prostate cancer: A woman who has one first-degree female relative with breast cancer has almost twice the risk of a woman without a family history. If she has more than one first-degree female relative with a history of breast cancer, her risk is about three to four times higher

    Hormonal replacement therapy: If you are considering taking Menopause Hormone Therapy MHT (estrogen plus progestin or estrogen alone), discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor. For short-term relief of menopausal symptoms, estrogen plus progestin is an approved MHT. However, the FDA recommends that it be used only at the lowest doses for the shortest time possible.
    Estrogen plus progestin increases the risk of both developing and dying from breast cancer. When women take these hormones, their risk of having an abnormal mammogram increases within the first year of use. And, their risk of breast cancer increases within the first five years of use

    Race and ethnicity: White and now African-American women have the highest incidence (rate of new breast cancer cases) overall. However, there are differences when looking at these rates by age. Among women over 60, white women have higher rates of breast cancer compared to African-American women. Among women younger than 45, African-American women have higher rates of breast cancer. The reasons behind these differences are under study. They may include differences in prevalence rates of some reproductive and lifestyle factors related to breast cancer risk as well as differences in tumor biology. Triple negative breast cancers (which have a poorer prognosis) are more common among African-American women than among women of other ethnicities.

    Main factors that decreases the risk of breast cancer

    Body weight (heavier) before menopause

    Exercise (physical activity) after menopause

    Breastfeeding

    Daily intake of Fruits and vegetables: Although the effects on breast cancer risk are modest, eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables may lower the risk of heart disease, stroke and other chronic diseases.

    Consumption of Carotenoids: In general, fruits and vegetables are the best sources of carotenoids (rather than supplements) and are part of a healthy diet. While taking pill supplements of carotenoids have been linked to increased risk of lung cancer, intake of carotenoids from fruits and vegetable appear to lower the risk of certain breast cancers

    Factors that have no significant or known impact

    • Abortion
    • Electromagneticfields (from utility wires, electricblankets, etc.)
    • Blood organochlorinelevels (exposure to certaintypes of pesticides and industrial chemicals)
    • Hairdyes and hairrelaxers
    • Bras or underwirebras
    • Left-handedness
    • Breast implants
    • Menopausal hormone therapy – estrogenonly (less than 10 years of use)
    • Caffeine
    • Migraine headaches
    • Cell phone use
    • Trauma to the breast
    • Deodorant/anti-perspirant use

    *American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts and Figures 2016. Atlanta, GA: American Cancer Society, 2016, Susan G Komen race for the Cure