Expert calls for self-examination for early detection of breast cancer

JEDDAH: In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Dr. Amel Merdad is providing a helpful guide about the disease to women .

Recent statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO) indicate that
more than 1.2 million breast cancer cases are diagnosed worldwide each
year. Breast cancer kills more than 500,000 women a year. The disease
ranks second in cancer incidence, after lung cancer, worldwide.

One in every eight women will breast cancer in her lifetime.

The evolution of scientific research and increased awareness have
contributed significantly to the increase in recovery rates, as a result
of early detection of the disease.

Ten percent of breast cancer cases occur as a result of genetic mutations inherited by the generations in a family.

The incidence of breast cancer increases with age, and it usually occurs
after age 40. The average age of breast cancer patients in Saudi Arabia
is 48 years and it is so worldwide. Dr. Merdad provided her advice on
early screening methods. “Periodic self-breast examination helps women
to be aware and familiar with their breasts so they can take care of
them, being healthy and not only pretty.

Dr. Merdad added that self-breast examination is to be done once a month
on the sixth or seventh day of the menstrual cycle from the age of 20
and forward. “In the case of menopause, self-examination takes place on
the same date every month,” she said.

She also gave these useful guidelines:

Self testing

Stand in front of the mirror and look at the breasts to check for
anything unusual, such as the presence of lumps or differences in the
size of the breasts or the presence of swelling or changes in skin or

Put your hands behind your head to notice in the mirror for any
difference in the lower part of your breasts. Put your hands on your
waist and bend forward slightly with the pressure of the shoulders and
elbows forward to check for any change in the shape or size of the

Lift your left hand and use three fingers from the right hand to examine
the left breast in a circular way from the outer edge of the breast and
in the direction of the nipple, focusing on the area between the breast
and armpit and area under the armpit.

Repeat this step with your right breast. Press the nipple gently to
observe any abnormal discharge. Repeat the previous steps while lying on
your back.


Age 20-40 years old: Self-examination is recommended monthly. Also check
with your doctor every three years. An ultrasound is recommended for
the breast examination only if necessary.

Age 40-65 years: Self-examination is recommended monthly and check with
the doctor every year. Mammograms are indicated once every one to two
years for all women.

More than 65 years: Monthly self-examination and check with your doctor annually. Schedule a mammogram every two to five years.

Dr. Merdad said that taking care of a woman psychologically plays an important role in enhancing the cure rate.

“To all women. Protect your health, have a great life, and screen yourselves for breast cancer,” she added.

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