Think of 29 women you know personally. Now imagine one is diagnosed with breast cancer. It could be your mother, sister, wife, cousin, best friend or girlfriend… it could be you!


It’s a horrible thought but according to the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA), it’s reality with one in every 29 South African women being diagnosed with breast cancer!

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and we’re urging all women to learn how to detect breast cancer early. CANSA recommends a breast self-examination (BSE) every 7 to 10 days after menstruating and women over 40 years old should schedule an annual mammogram.

Most cases of breast cancer are detected by the patient themselves so put a BSE on your monthly to-do list or write in in your diary if you have to. Remember, the earlier breast cancer is detected, the sooner you can get the treatment to beat it!

While most women look for an unusual lump in their breasts, one form of breast cancer does not present as a lump. It is called Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC) and instead of forming a lump, IBC grows in ‘nests’ or ‘sheets’ which clog the lymphatic system just below the skin. Symptoms may include:

  • Increased breast density
  • Swelling, usually sudden, sometimes a cup size in a few days
  • Itching
  • Pink, red, or dark coloured area (called erythema) sometimes with texture similar to the skin of an orange
  • Ridges and thickened areas of the skin
  • Nipple retraction (when a nipple inverts)
  • Nipple discharge
  • Breast is warm to the touch
  • Breast pain (from a constant ache to stabbing pains)
  • Change in colour and texture of the areola

If you notice any concerning changes in your breasts, find an Essential Med networked-registered healthcare professional near you and book an appointment.

We’re giving away five Donna Gloves, the world’s first breast lump detection glove, in honour of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  To enter, visit our Facebook fan page.

Sources: CANSA and  Health24