Breast cancer ranks first among cancerous diseases in Iraq, constituting about a third of the cases. One in every three women with cancer was diagnosed with breast cancer. (1) Breast cancer occurs due to tissue multiplying and growing out of control to form a tumor. It often occurs due to Breast tissue aging; less than 10% of cases occur due to genetics. Men may also get breast cancer but at a lower rate.

We cannot prevent breast cancer, but we can reduce the chance of contracting it and reduce the risk of the disease spreading through early screening. If it is detected early, the mortality risk of the disease is reduced by 90%

Facts about breast cancer in Iraq:

  • Women are ahead of men in the rate of cancer cases, and among every three women diagnosed with cancer, one is diagnosed with breast cancer. (1)
  • There was an increase in annual cancer cases between 2005 and 2016 and a significant increase in the cancer rate among women compared to men (according to the yearly cancer registration report 2016 issued by the Cancer Council in Iraq). (1)
  • Overall, rates of cancer in Iraq are lower than global rates. (1)
  • The rise in cancer cases is likely due to several reasons, including radioactive contamination and lack of care and health awareness among Iraqis (according to the report on women and men in Iraq, development statistics for the year 2012). (1)

Risk factors of breast cancer:

These are the factors that may increase the probability of having breast cancer:

  1. Females are at more risk than male to have breast cancer.
  2. 50 years old or older are more common to have breast cancer.
  3. Previous history of any cancer, especially if received radiation.
  4. Family history of any cancer.
  5. Early puberty or menstruation.
  6. Late menopause.
  7. Not breastfeeding.
  8. Not having children or childbearing after the age of 30.
  9. Obesity
  10. Chronic smoking (cigarettes and shisha)
  11. High levels of estrogen (gynecomastia) in male


How do I reduce the risk of breast cancer?

  1. Maintaining a healthy weight: Obesity in general increases the risk of cancer.
  2. Eat healthy food: Include uncooked fruits and vegetables and eat lean proteins such as fish and chicken breasts in our daily meals.
  3. Increase physical activity: Find a way to exercise that is enjoyable and according to our daily schedule.
  4. Knowing your family’s medical history: If a family member has breast cancer, you must attend regular examinations because early detection helps reduce the risk of spreading the disease.
  5. Breastfeeding: Breastfeed your children for as long as possible (for at least a year).
  6. Breast cancer screening: whether it is a home self-examination or a periodic examination in the specialist doctors’ clinic.
  7. Reduce exposure to chemicals: As much as possible, avoid continuous exposure to detergents, plastic materials, cosmetics, and preservatives, especially parabens, triclosan, and diethyl phthalate.


How do I do a home screening for breast cancer?

  1. Examine each breast individually with your fingertips and in a circular motion from the outer circumference in the armpit area and towards the nipple. Try to feel any strange lump or tumor you did not feel existed before.
  2. Gently press the nipple between your fingers until you ensure no lumps or abnormal secretions.
  3. Stand in front of the mirror with your arms down and try to observe any apparent changes such as skin color, breast shape or size, or any irregularities in the skin or changes in the nipple, then raise your arms and observe again.
  4. Re-examine the breast with your fingertips while lying on your back and look for any swelling, lumps, or thickening.
  5. Among the signs that should raise your concern during a home examination:
    • Any pimples, ulcers, or abscesses in the chest area.
    • A mole (nevus) that did not exist previously and has no specific shape.
    • Any change in the shape or size of the breast.
    • The presence of lumps or tumors in the breast area. Notice if they can be moved, if they are fixed, or if they are painful or not.
    • Any change in skin color, redness, or a plaque-like texture (similar to an orange peel).
    • Nipple discharge of a color resembling an abscess.
    • A concave or inward nipple.
    • Persistent pain or itching in any part of the armpit or breast.

If you notice any strange signs or any of the above, quickly visit the medical clinic for a specialized medical examination, and remember that early detection may save your life.


You can find more information and accurate pictures about breast cancer in the brochure by clicking here.


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(1) The official website of the Middle East Research Institute

(2) Johns Hopkins Aramco Medical Center website

(3) The official website of the Breast Cancer Early Detection Awareness Campaign in the United Kingdom