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Belize observes International Day against Breast Cancer- women encouraged to get screened early

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Posted: Monday, October 19, 2020. 7:51 pm CST.

By BBN Staff: Belize joins with other World Health Organization (WHO) member countries today to observe the International Day Against Breast Cancer (IDABC).

The WHO sets aside the month of October for breast cancer awareness, and marks October 19 for the IDABC, with this year’s theme for both events being “Give Hope. Save Lives.”

The Ministry of Health’s (MOH)’s message to Belizeans today focused on the importance of knowing their risk factors and ensuring early screening.

“We wouldn’t want any patients to have cancer, but there are factors that have to be considered,” explained Maternal and Child Health Advisor for the MOH, Dr. Natalia Beer. “Early menstruation, late menopause, and having children late are all considered risk factors. But there is still so much we don’t know about risk factors and what we know is not enough.”

Beer said that other risk factors include alcohol abuse, obesity, and physical inactivity. she noted that the best method of screening is the mammogram, which is available through the National Health Insurance (NHI). While the recommended age to make mammograms a regular part of physical checkups is between ages 40-44 years, Beer said that women who know they have one or more risk factors should consider begging to screen at age 30.

“It progresses really quickly. It doesn’t give you much time so once a woman finds a little lump in the breast, she needs to run. She cannot wait until next year, or next month or three months, she needs to get care immediately,” Beer said.

Data from the MOH said that there were six newly-diagnosed cases of breast cancer in 2019, while 20 people lost their lives to it.

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