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Updated: Sep 30, 2020

By Melina Seeam (October 2020)

Surrounded by modern world complexities, i.e. navigating through busy routines and dividing time between work and family, we often find ourselves overlooking our health. Depreciation takes place where work and health fail to uphold a stable balance.

As advertisers, we should value our potential through ads in helping remember the severity of the illness, develop communication strategies around breast cancer to raise awareness. Ad campaigns are of great importance for communication purposes and they assist intensively in dissemination of knowledge on breast cancer in the most imaginable and exciting ways. They effectively act as guidelines through offline and online channels on how to take precautionary measures before it’s too late. The impact of breast cancer awareness campaigns should lead to people dedicating more time and conducting self-examination.

Why is it important to understand breast cancer, is the question of many who are not aware of the dangers related to breast cancer. We would often think when there is no family history of our close ones having previously contracted the illness, then the chances of getting it seem to diminish. Moreover, if that person has healthy food consumption habits, it would also contribute to having underestimated perception of breast cancer. For this month dedicated to breast cancer, we aim to shed light on the illness and assess the impact of ad campaigns in their communication strategies to build awareness and resilience.

Breast cancer develops when there is a mutation between a healthy cell and a damaged DNA in the cell. Some are more at risk than others while others less. Avoidable (e.g. alcohol) and unavoidable (e.g. family history) risks are determining factors in increased chances of getting breast cancer. However, it is not definite that someone with higher risks will end up with the illness. It is also possible they may never encounter it in their lives. What we can deduct from this, is that no one is safe.

The illness is accounted for as the second leading cause of death in women. Low incidence rates are found in African regions, yet this is increasing. 50% of cases and 58% of deaths are reported to occur in developing countries including Namibia, where the majority of the patients are only diagnosed in the later stages. In a research conducted by the World Health Organisation (WHO), breast cancer has been found to be the most common type of cancer in Namibia. 14.5% of cases were detected and 9.9% were the results for mortality rates. The Population Attributable Fraction (PAF) marks the risk factor for alcohol at 5.9%. It is also estimated the number of cases will jump from 318 cases in 2018 to reach 622 by 2040. An alarming fact is that Namibia does not have a breast cancer screening program nor has it been announced if such an implementation is foreseeable in the near future.

Although rare in men, the mortality rate is higher in men than in women. The National Breast Cancer Foundation outlines the following:

  • A male child of a man with breast cancer who inherits the defective BRCA2 gene has only approximately 6% chance of eventually developing breast cancer and just over 1% with BRCA1.

  • A female child of a man with breast cancer who inherits the defective gene has a risk between 40% and 80% of eventually developing breast cancer.

Over the years ad campaigns have been dedicated to communicate awareness specifically around self-diagnosis based on different symptoms that are associated to breast cancer. The “Know Your Lemons” campaign is a remarkable example as it accurately informs on the different stages linked to breast cancer. It also serves to point out that breast cancer awareness can not only be achieved through pink ribbons. Truly eye-catching, this campaign uses lemons as a device to render people more knowledgeable on what is truly at stake. Using an original sense of humour through lemons has a proven track record of extensive reachability rates. It moves away from the conventional threads of advertising towards breast cancer where pink was the predominant colour associated with the awareness campaigns. The fruit has been effective in communicating the message which prompts us to remember the necessity of performing a self-exam once a month.

Ad campaigns have performed really well over the years. They have been able to encourage us first to understand breasts better so that we are able to identify any danger signs. As the “Know Your Lemons” puts it, the symptoms that occur ranges from thickening to lumps.

The general rules for a Breast self-examination (BSE) are to be conducted as summarised below:

  • BSE means an examination of the entire breast and armpit area pressing down with light, medium and firm pressure.

  • Breasts must be checked each month to feel for any lump, thickening, hardened knot.

  • Look for any changes in the contour, any swelling, or dimpling of the skin.

  • Squeeze the nipple; check for discharge and lumps.


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