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Friday, September 25, 2009

Women's Health. Breast Cancer - Does Prevention work?

Data obtained from The National Cancer Institute (INCA) in Brazil, reveal that breast cancer accounts for the highest mortality rate between the years of 2002-2006: 16,5% when compared to the cancer of the larynx at 0,6% on the same period. A lot of deaths.

No amount of preparation will ever get anyone ready for such a diagnosis. It is devastating. However, we hear of women who have made it through the grueling treatment period and are back on track doing what they do best: being women, mothers, professionals and the companions they have always been. In the U.S. they are known as Breast Cancer Survivors. In Porto Alegre, we have the "Marcha das Vitoriosas, or the march of the victorious, an annual event which is something akin to the marches in other countries. Their aim: to bring awareness and funding to local efforts to prevent and eradicate this horrible disease.

The good thing is that in more developed countries mortality rates are decreasing due to greater breast cancer awareness and public policies geared towards early tumor detection – mammography is essential. Sadly, in Brazil, it is the opposite, where mortality and incidence rates have increased in recent years. Experts say this is due to the delay in diagnosis – when women come in for their mammograms, the disease is well underway which may render treatment useless. Therein lies the importance of awareness marches that draw attention to the fact that early detection and public health initiatives to prevent the onset of the disease are literally lifesaving.

Hopefully, the gloomy scenario can be changed if women start taking responsibility for their own health and taking steps to make changes, perhaps in their lifestyles, thus reducing the chance of ever having to worry about the heartbreaking diagnosis. A few tips from the Guideline Implementation for Breast Healthcare in Low-Income and Middle-Income Countries part of an overview of the Breast Health Global Initiative - Global Summit 2007:

- If you are having a baby, make sure you breast feed. Breastfeeding helps
- Exercise regularly
- Watch your weight
- Avoid alcohol
- Avoid exposure to radiation
- Avoid exogenous – that is, taken externally - hormone therapy.

The added benefit is that by incorporating these health behaviors, you will be making a huge difference and, additionally, it will be good for you in general.

On the Video, Dr. Maira Caleffi, breast cancer specialist, founding president of the IMAMA - Breast Instititute of Rio Grande Sul - in Porto Alegre, RS, at the opening ceremony of the Pink October Cancer Awareness Month on why prevention is important. Check it out.

Women's health. Concern. Importance of self-exams. Awareness centers in Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil. What to look for? Statistics. Future.

Lighting of the Monuments. As part of the Pink October Awareness Campaign, The Breast Institute is sponsoring the lighting of monuments all over Porto Alegre.


  1. Mauro, it is nice to see this proactive stance on breast cancer on your blog. Too often men think that this issue is a "woman's issue", but it really involves all of us. My mom died from breast cancer several years ago, so this a tremendously important issue for me. Knowledge+ Self awareness/Action=Power to Stop Breast Cancer

  2. I lost mine to pancreatic cancer. It was awful to see. Cancer, whatever kind, is always heartbreaking. We are left helpless when we witness their being infused with various chemicals and just waste away...

  3. good work, it's worth reading and we have to spread the news because the costs are too high in every way and sense of the word! i lost my mom, grandmother and an aunt, and that is three people too many.