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Oct 20, 2016

Healthy Living: Separating True and False Statements on Breast Cancer

It’s Breast Cancer Awareness month. It means it’s time for some education on this preventable form of cancer.  In tonight’s Healthy Living, we test your breast cancer awareness as we present five lesser known facts and common misconceptions about breast cancer.


Marleni Cuellar, Reporting

How much do you know about Breast Cancer? There has been tons of public education but there are a few facts people still don’t get right. Heather Reneau of the Belize Cancer Society explains some of the common misconceptions she finds in Belize.  You can test your own knowledge and see if you can tell which of following are true or false. Number one, you can only develop breast cancer is someone in your family has been diagnosed with breast cancer before. This one is completely false.


Heather Reneau

Heather Reneau, Senior Administrator, Belize Cancer Societies

“Breast cancer is not only prevalent in people who have it in their family history. You may not have a history of breast cancer but you can develop it. There are environmental factors, there are natural things that we are putting into our bodies and all of these things causes cancer. You know the carcinogen the smoke that we inhale, the alcohol that we drink, the lack of exercise; you know being obese is also contributing factors for breast cancer.”


Number two: breast cancer is no longer the top cancer affecting women in Belize. This is true; but, this treatable cancer still affects too many women in this country and remains an area of concern.


Heather Reneau

“Breast cancer is one of our most prevalent cancer. Unfortunately it has been overtaken by cervical cancer which is the number one cancer for women in Belize. But breast cancer is in a very close second.”


Number three: breast cancer only affects women over forty – definitely false. Wife of the PM, Kim Barrow, was one well-known case of being diagnosed before the age of forty. In 2011, Barrow was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer at the age of three years old.


Heather Reneau

“We’re realizing that more and more women are being diagnosed at a younger age. It’s not only women who are in their forties who are getting mammograms and being diagnosed with cancer. There are young women in their twenties and their thirties. You know we’ve even heard of a teenager so we can see that the world is changing.”


Number four: breast cancer can affect men too – absolutely true.

While women are a hundred times more likely to develop breast cancer, men can develop it as well. And in fact, they usually don’t spot it until the cancer is very advanced and life threatening.


Number five: breast cancer is detected by getting a mammogram – true, but it’s not the only way. An ultrasound can be used for younger women on the advice of their doctor. And every woman with our without a family history should do a monthly self evaluation. A practice that men can do as well.


Heather Reneau

“There is a simple check that you can do. This is the privacy of your own home. We normally tell people when you taking a bath. You can do this once a month. You can stand in front of your mirror and place one of your hands above your head and you use your three or four fingers and check the breast in a circular motion. Males can do this as well. You check behind your ears and you check under your arms where your lymph nodes are to ensure that you don’t have any pain any tenderness or any bruising and for women you have more fatty tissue in the breast so it’s a little different we as you to look for any bumps, any scaliness, any bruising, any discharge from your nipple, make sure it doesn’t have any scent or color and if you have any overall pain or discomfort. Don’t be afraid. If you feel it’s something that was not there or not normal, check your healthcare practitioner. For the ultrasound it would be if the doctor sees any abnormal changes, if you have a lump or abnormal pain, the doctor may order an ultrasound to make sure that there is nothing there – if you are not at the age of mammogram. Normally a mammogram is recommended at age forty, but if you have the history in your family we recommend that you take a mammogram at least at thirty-five some people recommend ten years before the youngest person in your family had cancer. So if your mom had cancer or your aunt had cancer – ten years before the age they were diagnosed you should get you mammogram to check.”


The Belize cancer Society is hosting a number of activities to commemorate the month including blood drives, survivor’s luncheon and Cancer walks in PG and Cayo. For more information find the Belize Cancer Society on Facebook.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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