The Breast Cancer Awareness Month, marked in countries across the world every October, helps to increase attention and support for the awareness, early detection and treatment. Al Hilal Hospital and Medical Centre in Bahrain are one among the many health care providers in Bahrain that are campaigning for Breast Cancer Awareness.

According to the WHO, there are about 1.38 million new cases and 458 000 deaths from breast cancer each year (IARC Globocan, 2008).

Al Hilal Hospital (Salmabad) Specialist OBs./Gynaecologist Dr Rajani Ramachandran talks exclusively to Albilad on the importance of tackling breast cancer.

“This campaign is primarily about encouraging women to come forward, to empower them to know their own body, to examine for themselves and find out how dangerous this disease is. Most of them do not even know that breast cancer is the second most killer cancer around. Every 12 minutes, a woman gets diagnosed with cancer and around the 19th minute a woman dies of it” says Dr Rajani.

“Over 98% of the cases if diagnosed and detected in an early stage can be given the appropriate treatment where they gain a five-year survival rate, which is good. The first step comes with the patient, the people and the community. That is where we come in as we are trying to get to women around and spread the word” she added.

Dr Rajani highlighted the importance of educating women about normal breast anatomy, physiology and its functions.

“If you find a lump, it does not necessarily mean you have cancer. It is important to know what is normal and to know when you have to get examined” she said.

“It is important to enquire with your family and understand if there is a history of any type of cancer. But the saddest part is that 70% of women who get breast cancer do not have any family history or do not have any reason to attribute to. It is a sporadic event” she further stated.

“If you have anybody in your family with aggressive cancer, then even at the age of 20 you may have to undergo genetic testing as there are two deadly genes that are mutated- BRCA1 and BRCA2- which are present in women. There is a 65% chance that the patient may be prone to ovarian and breast cancer. Whenever you have doubt don’t keep it to yourself, schedule an appointment with the doctor” emphasizes Dr Rajani.

It is recommended that by the age of 20 women need to do start doing self-examination monthly and women between 20 to 30 years of age must go to a clinician every 2 – 3 years. After the age of 40, annual mammograms are mandatory.

“If you detect the disease early on, then the chances of survival are much better. No one can know your body better than yourself”.

A healthy lifestyle is an important factor adds Dr Rajani. “Basically what to do is to have a healthy lifestyle. Women busy with their family often tend to not have space for themselves. My advice is to go workout, attend Zumba classes, group activities, trekking depending on the topography. You need to get into activities that make you exercise, releases that kind of endorphins and feel-good hormones in your body”.

There are many risk factors but not everything is going to tell you that you are going to get cancer for sure. But we can change is a healthy eating, healthy lifestyle, stress-free life and exercising.