By Dimithri WijesingheOctober is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and this year, the Indira Cancer Trust has teamed up with a number of organisations to raise awareness and launch a Touch, Look, Check (TLC) campaign in Sri Lanka, to promote breast self-examination. Breast Cancer Awareness Month is a worldwide annual campaign that takes place in October to highlight the nature of the disease and educate people about methods of prevention and early detection.At a conference held on 30 September at the Trust in Maharagama, they shared that this campaign has been used in many other countries to raise awareness with regards to breast cancer, and it has shown to be very effective in early detection and treatment of the disease by promoting regular self-examination of breasts every month on a fixed day.They shared that breast cancer is by far the most common cancer in women worldwide and also in Sri Lanka, where the incidence has been rising steadily in past years. Whilst following prevention strategies, early detection of the disease remains the cornerstone of breast cancer control. When breast cancer is detected early, and if adequate diagnosis and treatment are available, there is a good chance that breast cancer can be cured.As for carrying out self-examination, they provided that the best time to do a monthly breast self-examination is seven days after your period starts; if you are menopausal fix a day monthly, and it is best advised to start at 20 years and make it a habit. They added that there is no age limit for TLC.At the conference, it was discussed how cancer in Sri Lanka is steadily on the rise and as per the World Health Organisation (WHO) – Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD) Country Profiles, 2014 – 75% of the total of 138,000 deaths are due to NCDs, which include cancer.As cancer cases mount due to better detection and more reporting, the number of fatalities has dropped significantly due to more effective treatment methods. They shared that this applies to Sri Lanka as well, where most hospitals have reported an increase in the number of patients visiting the outpatient departments (OPDs) for cancer screening. From the research amassed, they stated that out of all cancers, the most evident cause of death in males was mouth and oropharynx cancer (18.8%) whilst in females it was breast cancer, adding that along with the deaths, the same pattern is seen with the detection of new cases of cancer. Every year, approximately 4,000 cases of breast cancer are detected in females, whilst approximately 1,900 cases of lip and oral cavity cancer are detected in males.As part of the Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the organisers proposed a number of ways to spread awareness in your workplace, suggesting examples such as requesting the staff to wear pink ribbons during the month of October, as well as observing “Wear it Pink Day” on 23 October where all at the workplace wear pink to work.Indira Cancer Trust is working with many partners to promote awareness this October, simply because early detection saves lives. If you are planning an event, need support, or want to support patients with breast prostheses or wigs, please do call their helpline or 0112 088 288 or 0710 774 488.