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4 Tips to increase mindfulness about breast cancer in African women
1. Commit and encourage others to commit to early detection plan
Like most cancers in general, when breast cancer is detected early, and is in the localized stage, the 5-year relative survival rate is 100% in resource rich countries and probably nearly so in African countries subject to access to basic treatment. For this reason, African women and their influencers are advised to take control by creating and executing breast cancer awareness and detection plan by following these important steps:
a) Learn the basic technique of breast self-examination
If a woman aged 20 - 30 years, visit early with your health care provider and request to be trained in the most appropriate ways to perform breast self-examination (BSE) and the signs and symptoms to look out for in the early detection of breast cancer.
b) Get a clinical breast exam (CBE)
For African women aged 40 and above, use the opportunity of a routine visit to your health care provider to request for professional breast examination and talk about the signs and symptoms of early breast cancer.
c) Get a mammogram
A mammogram is expensive and not readily available in most African community health centers. It may however be available in large district hospitals, academic medical centers or private medical centers in urban areas of some African countries. If accessible and affordable to you, it is recommended that women from age 50 years with an average risk for breast cancer should get a mammogram done every two years until age 74.
d) Talk to your health care provider immediately if you feel or sense any abnormalities in your breast or proximate body area.
2. Seek and share information
As with most things in life, the more you know, the better you are to deal with whatever life throws at you. So in the month of October and subsequently thereafter, seek out and read as much consumer-friendly information as you can get from reliable sources either Online or your local library about several aspects of breast cancer. Share the information with your family members and those in your social and professional network.
3. Engage in volunteer work
Identify any governmental or non-governmental organisation in your local community engaged in community breast cancer awareness, detection and treatment programmes and volunteer your service in such organisations. If there is none near you, you may consider joining forces with like-minded friends around you to start one. Such volunteer engagement helps to keep you grounded, aware and relatable to others about the diversities of issues and challenges of dealing and coping with breast cancer.
4. Be vigilant
Consistent vigilance of the early signs and symptoms of breast cancers is the bedrock for early detection and cure of the condition. So, remain mindful always and stay on top of learning and sharing information as well as volunteering to serve in community organisation providing services to breast cancer sufferers.
World Health Organisation. Breast cancer: Early detection and screening
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