An increasing number of women are being diagnosed each year with breast cancer and the condition has become the most common among all South Africans.
About 3 800 women were diagnosed with breast cancer this year alone. The condition is most prevalent among whites and Asian women.
Breast cancer brings with it emotional trauma as it strikes immediate fear into the hearts of women. Unlike many other types of cancers, it affects self-image, Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang said yesterday when she marked October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Breasts have always been seen as symbolising the femininity of women, and the thought of losing a breast makes most women very uncomfortable. Emotional support and understanding from their partners and loved ones is an essential element of recovery, she said.
About 90 percent of patients survive for many years after diagnosis when breast cancer is detected at the early stages. Early detection of the condition can lead to effective treatment and a positive prognosis can prevent unnecessary deaths, according to experts.
The department will host a series of awareness campaigns across the country to educate the public about the need for regular self-examination, to have regular mammograms and to provide information about early symptoms and the various treatment options available.
The department will work with the public and private healthcare structures in its drive to raise awareness of the debilitating disease across all races and class structures.
It is essential to inform the public that early detection will result in more effective treatment, leading to a significant decrease in the loss of life, said
Source: Sowetan, 3 October 2001