Pink of Health

It is a very upsetting fact that 1 out of 14 women will develop breast cancer before the age of 75. Many of the women thought that they will not get breast cancer so easily or they are safe from breast cancer because their families do not have any cancer history. Usually many of the men will feel that breast cancer will only happen in woman. They are wrong. Breast cancer can be affected anyone of any age, gender, even those with healthy lifestyle or no genetic family history of breast cancer. So it would best to go for early mammogram screening to have a check. It is always good to be safe than sorry.


This month is pink ribbon month, so would like to bring awareness to everyone about breast cancer.


Early stage of breast cancer often has no symptoms so it is very hard to be detected. It is important to go for regularly mammogram screening to check for breast cancer. Mammogram screening is the most effective screening tool available to detect early breast cancer before any symptoms arise. Usually 2 X-ray images of each breast are taken after the breast is compressed and yes, it can be uncomfortable or slight painful for a few seconds. Good compression is vital as it helps to spread out the breast tissue so that abnormalities can be clearly seen. Rest assure that doing it annually does not wake up any breast cancer cell or expose yourself to breast cancer. Mammogram screenings can be supplemented with an ultrasound or MRI scan.


Since anyone can get breast cancer, the best way to detect breast cancer is to know your own breast baseline. If you feel that there are changes in your breast baseline, kindly proceed to have a check. Changes such as breast pain, lump or nipple discharge could be the symptoms of breast cancer. Even if you are pregnant and suspect of breast cancer, not to worry, mammogram screening can be performed using an abdominal shield to protect the baby. When a suspicious abnormality is detected, a biopsy is performed to obtain the tissue for confirmation of diagnosis.


Good news to all, breast cancer is highly treatable and patients often live a long life with adequate and appropriate treatment. There are many patients who are able to live 20 to 30 years after getting breast cancer. However, if left untreated, the breast cancer cell can grow, spread and cause a person to suffer physically. There are cases where breast cancer has spread to other organs, it is not uncommon for patients with breast cancer to live beyond 5 to 10 years if they receive treatment to control the cancer.


Breast cancer treatment often involves a combination of surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and targeted therapy. However, the doctor will advise the patient which treatment options will be best suit for the patient according to the type of tumour one has, the doctor will also has to consider the patient’s overall health and preferences. Medical team had been researching for new drugs and treatment for breast cancer. There is a new treatment modality called Cryoablation is being studied in clinical trials. It involves freezing away the tumour while it is still in the breast without the need for an operation. Patient is able to be discharge and cure with just a needle size hole. We eagerly await the results of this study. There are also newer drugs that allow for treatment with lesser side effects or complications.


Many young women are afraid to check for breast cancer for fear that if they got detected of breast cancer, they will not be able to settle down for family anymore. This is not true. Patients are still be able to conceive for child after they are treated or their disease is under control b y undergoing fertility preservation.

Even pregnant lady is able to receive treatment while carrying their baby to full term.


Women who got their breast removed are able to reconstruct their breast back the same sitting as the cancer surgery or after the completion of cancer treatment. Reconstruction of breast does not increase the risk of breast cancer returning. Surgeons are able to use lipofilling which inject one’s own fat removed by liposuction to reconstruct their breast back has been found to be safe.


Although hormone influences and genetics are 2 unmodifiable risk factors for breast cancer development, there are ways to reduce the risk of getting breast cancer by adopting a healthy lifestyle. We can adopt healthy lifestyle choices by exercising regularly, eating a well- balanced diet, limiting or avoiding alcohol consumption altogether, and maintaining a healthy weight.


To promote the importance of breast cancer, from 1st Oct to 31st Jan 2019, Singapore Cancer Society has help to reduce the cost of mammogram screening for women age 50 and above. Refer to the brochure for more detail.


Remember, early detection save lives.


Credit to Dr Jendana Chanyaputhipong, Breast Surgeon, PanAsia Surgery Group