QCOSTARICA – Each year about 280 women in Costa Rica die from breast cancer, representing 17% of all cancer deaths in the country, according to figures by the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS).

“Since 2005 it is the most common following skin cancers, the most deadly of all cancers. Therefore it is important that women know their body well and are able to detect any anomalies and seek help,” says Maria del Rocio Saenz, president of the CCSS.

Campaigns promote self-examination each month and a mammogram every two years, or every year after the age of 45, in addition to maintaining a good lifestyle that includes exercise and healthy eating.

Nevertheless, this type of tumor, similar to other developed countries, remains deadly.

Women in the country are urged to seek medical advice if they should suspect any lump in their breasts. Most breast lumps are not cancerous, but should be checked by a doctor. There are several common causes, including normal changes in breast tissue, breast infection or injury, and medicines that may cause lumps or breast pain.  It is sensitive to changing hormone levels during the menstrual cycle.

Breast tissue changes during a woman’s entire life.  Doctors say that the self-examination is essential for women to know their breasts and detect changes.

CCSS data shows that eight out of 10 inquiries about breast lumps, pain, oozing or malformations received at clinics are not cancer. But experts say it is necessary to seek medical advice on the signals, ruling out cancer rather that waiting to treat a cancer when it is too late.

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