As the world observes Breast Cancer Awareness Month this October, now is the perfect time to turn the spotlight on a disease that continues to affect the lives of countless women around the world and promote awareness for its early detection and intervention.
Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in the Philippines. In 2018, breast cancer had the highest incidence among cancer cases in the country at 17.6 percent (for both sexes, 31.4% among females), with the mortality rate recorded at 9.3 percent that year, according to the latest figures from the World Health Organization.
Globally, breast cancer is about 100 times more common in women than in men. Although it can manifest at almost any age, most cases occur over the age of 40, and the risk of developing the disease increases as one gets older.
These figures underscore the importance of early detection and intervention for breast cancer, especially for women aged 40 and above. Early detection and intervention enable medical professionals to recognize the disease in its localized stage, which in turn opens up more options for treatment and significantly increases the chances of survival for the patient. This is why women are encouraged to be more proactive about breast cancer.
“Just going in front of the mirror to check for any visual or physical changes in the breast, at least once a month, can go a long way in making sure that breast cancer is detected as early as possible,” said Dr. Melanie Cruz of the Philippine Breast Cancer Society (PBCS).
Dr. Cruz said that a monthly self-assessment is usually enough for those who are aged 25 and below. However, availing of clinical examinations increasingly becomes more important as one gets older. “Once a woman reaches the age of 40, annual visits to the clinic for breast cancer assessment becomes a must.”
One of the most common reasons why many women are not able avail of clinical assessments is the cost of consultations. Fortunately, there are a number of options available to them that don’t require them shelling out a lot of money. One of them is the free consultation offered in community clinics.
With breast cancer consultations now carried out mostly online, Dr. Cruz said that it is still important to avail of at least one physical consultation a year. “While it’s understandable that people are turning to virtual consultations for breast cancer as a safety precaution, at least one physical session a year is recommended as there are things that can only be addressed by physicians face-to-face.”
Breast cancer awareness is one of the many advocacies of SM aimed at enabling spaces that care for the welfare of women, and among the initiatives in line with this is the SM Cares Pink Ribbon Day in partnership with PBCS. Held annually every October, the goal of the initiative is to increase breast cancer awareness among stakeholders, particularly the importance of being proactive in preventing the disease.
This year, SM will be supporting this advocacy through an information, education, and communication campaign that will highlight the importance of early detection and intervention, which will be launched on the company’s various online channels.
SM Cares is the corporate social responsibility arm of SM Supermalls, focused on supporting initiatives centered around communities and the environment. SM Cares’ advocacies include programs on persons with disabilities, environment, women and breastfeeding mothers, senior citizens, and children and youth.