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AT LEAST 1,500 people, including breast cancer survivors, marched last October 23, 2010 to promote awareness of breast cancer, the leading cause of cancer-related deaths among Cebuano women.

Now on its seventh year, the activity, dubbed “Moonwalk: A Walk for Breast Cancer Awareness,” was organized by the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation, Inc. (RAFI), in observance of the Breast Awareness Month. The participants, coming from different sectors including students walked from Cebu Business Park to Asiatown I.T. Park, where they held a short program.

“There is an increasing incidence of breast cancer in Metro Cebu,” said Ronald delos Reyes, program coordinator of RAFI’s Eduardo J. Aboitiz Cancer Center (EJACC). “Even more alarming is the increase of deaths among Cebuano women due to breast cancer. This is what we want to address.”

Delos Reyes said a yearly average of 286 women have been diagnosed with breast cancer for the past 15 years, while annual deaths averaged 174. From 1993 to 2007, EJACC recorded a total of 3,005 reported breast cancer cases in Metro Cebu. In the same period, the center also recorded 829 cases of cervical cancer.

One way to fight these dreaded diseases, which is often caused by lifestyle-related factors, is regular screening to detect cervical and breast cancer in the early stages. Factors causing breast cancer include menarche before 12 years old, menopause beyond 55 years old, never having children, first giving birth after 30 years old and having a family history of cancer. Characterized by an abnormal growth of breast cells, breast cancer is most common in women ages 30 to 59.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 24, 2010.