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Latina Lista: News from the Latinx perspective > Columns & Features > Global Views > Mexico: Breast cancer deaths continue to escalate in spite of prevention campaigns

Mexico: Breast cancer deaths continue to escalate in spite of prevention campaigns

By Martha Ramos

MEXICO CITY: A dear friend of mine says that the problem with us, women, is that we have a lot of “accessories” and, of course, after our 40th birthday everything needs, at least, maintenance.

That happened to me. But I wasn’t able to see it. Mi gynecologist found a strange thing in my right breast that I couldn’t feel in my self-exam.

So she sent me to the oncologist. He said it was nothing but… he found something strange in my left armpit that I couldn’t detect either. In three months, that strange thing was 50% bigger.

Next step: Take it out!

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So there I went, to surgery. I was so scared… I just did what you have to do: trust my doctor.

Luckily, it turned out that everything was just fine. That strange thing, a ganglion two centimeters long, was nothing.

I’m saved.

(Photo source: Milenio.com)

I went back to the gynecologist, for my annual pap smear. As happy as I was, she told me: “Hmm, there is something wrong in your uterine neck.”

Shit! I got so mad! Why does everything have to happen all at once?

So there we go again.

It seems that whatever it was will not be as easygoing as the first biopsy. Now, there is something wrong. The gynecologist took it out, but I have to go back every six months to be sure it doesn’t return.

The oncologist suggested that I should consider taking my uterus out. In five years, the damage could turn into cancer.

I’m still mad. I have to make a decision, but it will be in the next few weeks. I have to deal with it first.

But really, as bad as it seems, I have time, a lot of time to make a decision, and that is a blessing.

The key here is prevention.

Mexico is waging a hard campaign against breast and uterine neck cancer. In fact, in Mexico, there has been a decrease in deaths from cervical cancer.

Information from the American Association of Cancer Research has concluded that the decrease in cervical cancer mortality in Mexico is proportional to the increase of women getting pap smears, along with, a decreasing birthrate.

The bad news is that breast cancer is increasing.

Nationally, breast cancer death rates have leveled off since 1995 in most age groups.

However, women born between 1940 and 1955 show the highest rate of increase in breast cancer deaths. Women, born after 1955, still show an increasing trend but at a much lower rate.

Mammography and adjuvant therapy — which includes chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, targeted therapy, or biological therapy — have had a limited impact on deaths.

Researchers are still discussing the potential reasons for these observed patterns. The National Institute of Public Health concluded that an increase in breast cancer deaths in Mexico is expected in the following decades.

Women around our country know exactly just how important it is to visit the gynecologist. There are very strong campaigns publicizing free exams, and we hear it day after day.

But let me tell you, from the bottom of my heart: Please, visit your doctor as often as he or she asks you to.

It pays.

As mad as I am, I’m so happy to know that I can fight whatever happens — before it happens.

Learn more about Martha:

I’m Martha Ramos, born 43 years ago, a journalist during the last 24 years and a mother since 1998.

I believe in the power of friendship, and the wisdom of children. I defend women as a basic element in every society, every group, every family.

I recognize journalism as the most important tool of a democratic country and the imperfect way of getting to the truth. Now, in the era of journalism 2.0 and 3.0 I really thank you for the possibility of talking to you and hearing from you.

Aside from Latina Lista, I also blog at my blog, and another one at Ejecentral.

LET’S TALK.

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