Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers in the Middle East and North Africa. Actually, it represents 1/3rd of all the other cancers. According to a 2013 recent study, for the last 10 years, cases of breast cancers became more frequent in the MENA region with higher incidence in Qatar and Bahrain1.
During the last years, a lot of new chemotherapy methods were used and led to reducing considerably death rates with breast cancer. The advance of research technology, especially the genetic research concerning the appearance of cancer and its growth, will help lower death rates even more in the future.
So, what do you think you know about breast cancer?
With the spread of cancer in general and breast cancer in particular and the high proportion of HIV-infected women, a lot of rumors and misconceptions started to appear about the disease.
One of these myths is that most cases of breast cancer is hereditary and therefore do not need to worry about the risk of breast cancer if there are no previous cases of breast cancer in the family. This is wrong. Only 5 to 10 percent of the breast cancer cases are caused by genetic mutations inherited from the family. The hereditary risk is present if some family members carry the genetic mutation BRCA while the threat seems less for most women who have in their families previous cases of breast cancer. If there is one first-degree relative with breast cancer, the risk doubles and if there are two first-degree relatives with breast cancer, the risk triples.
There are previous cases of breast cancer in the families of 20 to 30 percent of the women who develop the disease, which means that in 70 to 80 percent of the cases, there are no previous cases of breast cancer in the family of the woman who contracted the disease. In summary, genetic factor is not all what you should worry about concerning breast cancer.
It’s also a mistake to believe that in the presence of a genetic factor, women cannot do anything to protect themselves from the disease. If you have one or two first-degree relatives who have breast cancer, you should see a doctor and talk to him about it. He will determine whether there you need to do a genetic screening or other tests. Unfortunately, only few women of those who need genetic testing actually do it due to the lack of awareness and the shame to talk about it with a doctor.
If the tests show that the risk of infection is high, your doctor may advise an X-ray of the breast at an early age or direct you to undergo an MRI of the breast. These early tests may allow women to detect the disease earlier and the treatment will definitely be more effective in this case. The doctor can also resort to drugs or surgery to avoid the risk of infection.
It has been proven that women can control many of the causative factors of breast cancer. It is true that there are many factors that cannot be changed, such as age or the age at which the menstrual cycle began as well as the age at which it stopped, but there are many other factors that can be controlled to reduce the risk of breast cancer such as weight, physical activity and diet.
As a matter of fact, obesity and overweight play a role in increasing the risk of breast cancer, especially after menopause. So it is highly recommended to maintain a healthy weight throughout life to reduce the risk of breast cancer and other types of cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
In addition to all this, many studies have shown that physical activity reduces the danger of breast cancer. Women who practice sports activities regularly are less likely to develop breast cancer by 25 percent compared to women who do little physical activity.
It is advised to practice cycling, jogging, swimming and rope jumping for at least 45 minutes or an hour on most days of the week. One study indicated that walking for 75 to 150 minutes per week to lowers the risk of breast cancer by 18 percent.