Pink October: mammography and self-examination facilitate early diagnosis and increase chances of cure


October Rosa is the month of awareness to combat the second type of cancer that kills women the most. Prevention makes a difference. (Photo: Leandro de Santana / DP PHOTO.)

Three years ago, the recyclable waste picker Josefa Izaura, 54, went from being a volunteer to a patient at the Pernambuco Cancer Hospital (HCP). In 2017, during a self-examination, he noticed the presence of a nodule. After the mammogram, he discovered that it was a malignant tumor in the right breast. Josefa went through chemotherapy and radiation therapy for a year and a half. Last Thursday (1st), she underwent breast reconstruction surgery. A new stage that represents the cure after long treatment.

“I feel with more faith and strength to face life. In this period, in addition to the group Valorous Women (through which it makes monthly donations), the Renascer Group, which provides psychological care for those with cancer, helped me a lot. My I expect to be able to resume my life as before. After the surgery, I will need to undergo physical therapy for rehabilitation and I hope to return to work and actions to help other women who are experiencing the same problem “, she says.

After the loss of her sister, in 2019, due to breast cancer, Josefa started to do the self-examination frequently and the mammogram annually. The Ministry of Health’s recommendation is to have screening mammography between 50 and 69 years old, every two years. However, in the case of a family history of cancer, the test should be carried out between shorter intervals. “Because of this family history, I already followed up and had tests frequently. In addition, there is the question of age, since I am over 50 years old, and also hypertension and diabetes”, he comments.

According to the National Cancer Institute, breast cancer is the most common cause of death among women and is also the most common after skin cancer. “The disease can be detected even in the initial phase. And in most cases, early detection causes treatment to begin as soon as possible, increasing the possibility of a cure”, highlights the coordinator of the mastology service at the Cancer Hospital of Pernambuco (HCP), Denise Sobral.

This year, during the October Pink campaign, HCP partners with the Women’s Hospital of Recife (HMR). “Women who have a mammogram at the HMR and have some indication of cancer will already go out with an appointment scheduled at the Cancer Hospital. This prevents them from going in search of a specialist and also facilitates access to the appropriate treatment as soon as possible”, he comments the coordinator.


Even during the new coronavirus pandemic, treatment and surgeries were still carried out at the Pernambuco Cancer Hospital (HCP). “The tests that are carried out for clinical investigation were suspended in the first months of the pandemic, both in the public and private networks. And this caused some limitations in every health service. But the HCP did not stop. We continue to give priority to those who already have diagnosis and treatment. We still carry out the necessary surgeries “, comments Denise.

Since the month of July, the scheduling service has been resumed following sanitary rules such as preventing Covid-19, such as distance and wearing of a mask by professionals and patients. “It is important that all women do a mammogram and see a mastologist in case of suspicion”, he warns.

The guidance of the Brazilian Society of Mastology (SBM) is not to interrupt the screening and routine exams, considered essential for the identification of early diagnosis, even while the pandemic lasts. “In case the woman suspects a palpable nodule, she should not delay and seek care immediately to make the diagnosis”, warned SBM, in a note.

Scheduling mammography at the HCP can be done from Monday to Friday, from 2 pm to 4 pm, by calling 3217.8188.

Important informations

– Age is one of the most important risk factors for the disease. It is estimated that four out of five cases occur after age 50.

– Obesity and overweight after menopause;

– Family history of cancer;

– Sedentary lifestyle and physical inactivity;

– Not having children;

– Cases of breast cancer in the family, mainly before the age of 50;

– Consumption of alcoholic beverages;

– Use of hormonal contraceptives (estrogen-progesterone);

– Have done hormone replacement after menopause, mainly for more than five years.

– Nodule (lump), fixed and generally painless: it is the main manifestation of the disease, being present in about 90% of cases when the cancer is perceived by the woman herself;

– Skin of the breast reddish, retracted or similar to orange peel;

– Changes in the nipple (nipple);

– Small nodules in the armpits or neck;

– Spontaneous discharge of abnormal fluid through the nipples.

– About 30% of cases can be avoided by adopting healthy habits:

Practice physical activity;

– Eating healthy;

– Maintain adequate body weight;

– Avoid the consumption of alcoholic beverages;

– Breastfeed;

– Avoid using synthetic hormones, such as contraceptives and hormone replacement therapies.

  • Benefits of mammography
– Finding cancer early allows for less aggressive treatment;

– Lower risk of death from breast cancer, due to early treatment.


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