Statistics show that one in 29 South African women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. In urban communities, this number rises to one in eight. Luckily, early detection can result in effective treatment and a positive prognosis.
According to the World Cancer Research Fund, South Africa is ranked 50th amongst the countries with the highest cancer prevalence. Among South African women, the incidence of breast cancer is increasing, making it the most common form of cancer among white and Asian women and the second most common form among black and coloured women.
As October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it is the perfect time to educate your employees about the steps that need to be taken for early detection. Results show that 90% of patients survive post-diagnosis for several years when breast cancer is detected in its early stages.
While your employees may be aware of breast cancer, they may not know what to do to detect the disease in its early stages. Distribute information throughout the office and schedule a meeting where you encourage your female employees to do the following:
- Regular self-examination – Regular self-examination is key to the early detection of breast cancer. Irregular bumps or lumps should be reported to a doctor immediately.
- Regular Mammograms – The Radiological Society of South Africa recommends that women over the age of 40 have a mammogram at least every one to two years. Women between age 50 and 75 should have an annual mammogram. Those women with a family history of breast cancer are at a higher risk and should have annual mammograms as well as an MRI.
- Maintain a healthy weight – Aside from the obvious benefits of staying in shape, maintaining a healthy weight decreases your chances of being diagnosed with breast cancer, especially after menopause.
- Watch your alcohol intake – Research shows that drinking alcoholic beverages increases a woman’s risk of hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer so encourage your employees to switch to water whenever possible.
- Exercise regularly – Exercising regularly at a moderate or intense level for four to seven hours per week is linked to a lower risk of breast cancer. Not only this, but exercise regulates weight, boosts energy, releases happy chemicals, boosts confidence and reduces stress. A happy workforce is a productive workforce.
- Quit smoking – It’s no secret that smoking causes a number of diseases. Not only does it increase your chances of contracting lung cancer, but it is linked to a higher risk of breast cancer in younger, premenopausal women. Kicking the habit will also lower the risk for those exposed to your smoke as research shows there may be a link between heavy second-hand smoke exposure and breast cancer risk in postmenopausal women.
Early detection of breast cancer can result in more effective treatment, a reduction in potential pain and a decreased risk of death among women. Notify your employees today and encourage them to take the necessary steps. Prevention is always better than cure.
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