Breast Cancer Definition
The female breast has milk glands and ducts that are wrapped by a layer of fat. Each breast consist of 12 to 15 glands where milk is produced. Milk is collected in the ducts that drain via the nipples.
The breasts are affected by the female hormone during the reproductive phase. As a woman ages, the milk glands and ducts will shrink and replaced by fatty tissues. Breast cancer usually develop within these glands and ducts.
It is the top cancer in women in Singapore.
Each year 1000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer and over 400 die from it.
Breast Cancer Risk Factors
- Age : Most women diagnosed with breast cancer are usually older than 40 years old.
- Family History: Women with mother, sisters or daughters who have breast cancer is twice as likely to get breast cancer themselves compared to someone who does not have a family history. It is recommended that women with a family history to start breast screening 10 years before her relative’s age of diagnosis.
- Reproductive History: Risk of breast cancer is higher if :
- you do not have children or you have your first child after 35
- you start having menses early - younger than 11 or your menses stops late - after 55
- Breast feeding, when carried out for more than a year can help to reduce the women’s risk of breast cancer
- Diet : excessive consumption of red meat, animal fat and alcohol may increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer.
- Body weight and physical activity: obesity is associated with increased risk of breast cancer. Physical activity can reduce a woman’s risk of breast cancer.
Signs and Symptoms of Breast Cancer
- breast lumps
- bloody nipple discharge
- breast skin changes
- breast pain
- itchy rash of the nipple
Breast Cancer Screening tests for are available depending on age
- all women should do self breast examination on a monthly basis
- women from 40-49 should do mammogram and / or ultrasound yearly
- women 50 years and above should do mammogram once every two years
By : Dr Chen Yiming
Family Physician, MBBS (Singapore), GDFM (NUS), GDFP Dermatology (NUS)