Breast cancer is arguably the most frightening of the dread diseases, and while genetics contribute to this unregulated cell growth, there are many lifestyle contributors – the most significant of which is smoking.
This is according to Graham Anderson, Principal Officer of Profmed, the medical scheme catering exclusively to graduate professionals, who says breast cancer is the most common cancer affecting one in 33 South African women.
“Early detection of breast cancer is vitally important to the success rates of recovery as it enables a more effective response to treatment and a better chance of recovery. In order to achieve this, I would urge women survivors of breast cancer to adopt a balanced lifestyle and to go for regular screenings in order to decrease their cancer risk or the recurrence of cancer,” explains Anderson.
He advises though many breast lumps are harmless, they should all be checked. “It is important for women to do monthly breast self-examinations and to go for regular clinical breast examinations. Symptom-free women from the age of 35, should go for a mammogram (a special x-ray to detect lumps in the breast) at least every three years and women at a higher risk at least once a year,” explains Anderson.
Furthermore, Anderson says acknowledging the importance of a healthy balanced lifestyle, avoiding the use of tobacco use, being sun smart, undergoing regular preventative screenings and avoiding known cancer-causing factors are amongst the many things women can do to reduce their risk of developing cancerous growths.
“Experts estimate that cancer risk can be reduced by 30% if these unhealthy lifestyle factors are excluded from our way of life.”
Anderson adds that with the state of public healthcare remaining in a dire condition, it has also become increasingly important for people to take out medical cover to ensure they are able to receive the best possible oncology treatment.
“Profmed has always embraced the philosophy to provide quality, comprehensive healthcare while maintaining affordable contributions and has continually proven its ability to contain spiralling costs for treatments whilst ensuring that members receive the most appropriate treatment,” explains Anderson.
He says most medical schemes offer preventative healthcare (as a benefit option) which includes annual screenings as a means to enable people to deal with problems earlier, and at a reduced cost, as well as improving the health profile of members.
“There is little that can be done to reduce rising oncology costs. As treatments improve, so does the number of cancer survivors, which increases the overall cost of care. However, with more cancers arising as a result of poor choices it is becoming increasingly important for people to understand the ramifications of a poor diet, lack of exercise or excessive alcohol consumption and to take control of their health and make the necessary changes to their lifestyle,” concludes Anderson.