By: Mariam Elhamy

Ever wonder why a whole month was dedicated for breast cancer awareness? During Pinktober, awareness is brought to how breast cancer can go undetected and how regular checkups can prevent it or catch it at an early stage.

We’ve decided to look at the health issue from a new angle! Here are some facts and figures about breast cancer and some easy ways to detect the early symptoms. Knowing more about breast cancer will not only help you recognize the symptoms, but will also allow you to help your loved ones prevent it too.

Breast cancer survival rates have been increasing due to the more knowledge and awareness, so get ready to arm yourself with some facts!
Facts you may not know about breast cancer:
  1. Men get breast cancer, too. The risk of breast cancer in men is about 1 in 1,000 – Beyonce’s father just announced he is battling the disease.
  2. Breast cancer is more common in the left breast than the right.
  3. Breast cancer occurs in both dogs and cats; it tends to be far more aggressive in cats.
  4. Insect faeces featured heavily in ancient remedies for breast cancer up until the Middle Ages. An Egyptian papyrus recommended a mixture of cow’s brain and wasp dung to be applied to breast tumors for four days.
  5. Breastfeeding for a year or more slightly reduces overall risk of breast cancer. Breastfeeding often interrupts menstrual cycles resulting in less estrogen exposure, another reason is the structural changes in the breast after lactation and weaning.
  6. The leading risk factor for breast cancer is simply being a woman.

Things you need to know:

  1. 34 percent of Egyptian women suffer from breast cancer, according to Baheya Foundation.
  2. Most women (about eight out of 10) who get breast cancer do not have a family history of the disease.
  3. Having a first-degree relative (mother, sister or daughter) with breast cancer almost doubles a woman’s risk.
  4. Women who started menstruating early (especially before age 12) or went through menopause later (after age 55) have a slightly higher risk of breast cancer — likely because of a longer lifetime exposure to the hormones estrogen and progesterone.
  5. Women with dense breasts (more glandular and fibrous tissue and less fatty tissue) on mammograms have a risk of breast cancer that is about 1.5 to 2 times that of women with average breast density.
  6. Every minute, somewhere in the world, a woman dies from breast cancer. That’s more than 1,400 women every day.

In some cases there are no symptoms at all! This is why the regular checkups are so important. Death rates from breast cancer in more developed countries have been declining in recent years, and now survival rates are 80% or over in countries like the US, Sweden and Japan. However, survival rates remain below 40% in low-income countries.

But don’t get too stressed!

Here are a few ways to prevent breast cancer or detect it:

  1. In some cases women often detect having breast cancers themselves, which means that you can do a self-exam. Become familiar with your breast’s shape and appearance, this will help you notice any changes that might occur. Here are a few steps you can conduct a self breast cancer examination
  2. Regular exercise decreases the risk of getting breast cancer for women.
  3. Women who get regularly screened for breast cancer have a 47% lower risk of dying from the disease compared to those who don’t.