Breast Cancer is the most common cancer among women in Singapore today. All woman are at risk and the chances of developing it increases with age. Statistics show that the incidence of Breast Cancer today is 1 in 8. The good news is, breast cancer can be treated effectively, if it is detected early. What are the risk factors?
- You are over the age of 50
- Have a close relative who has breast cancer (mother, sister or daughter)
- A history of ovarian cancers
- Early onset of menstruation
- Late menopause
- Having first child after 30 having fewer children or never having children
- Being on hormonal replacement therapy
- Weight gain, especially after menopause
However, 4 in 5 woman diagnosed with breast cancer have no known risk factors.
Early detection is your best defense. It offers a better chance of successful treatment and recovery. Most woman with early stages of breast cancer do not show any signs or symptoms. Breast self-examinations (BSE) is an examination of one’s own breasts. It should be done monthly from age 20 and one week after the end of your menstruation when your breasts are less tender and lumpy. If you have no more menses, choose a day that you will remember each month. Some signs are a painless lump, persistent rash around the nipples, bleeding or unusual discharge from the nipple, swollen, thickened or dimpled skin on the breast or a retracted nipple (which was not retracted before). If you have any of the symptoms, please see your doctor immediately. You are encouraged to consult the doctor for breast screening yearly (for women aged 40-49 years) and once every 2 years (for woman aged 50 and above).
How to perform BSE?
Do the following steps while standing in front of the mirror:
1. Raise your arms
2. Lower your arms and press firmly against your hips
3. Turn slowly from side to side and look for changes in:
- Size or shape of breasts
- Appearance of skin
4. Use small circular movements to feel your armpits for lumps. Starting from the outside, feel around the breasts in circles. Feel behind the nipple
5. Gently squeeze the nipple to check for any bleeding or discharge
6. Lie down and repeat steps 4 and 5