Breast cancer is Singapore’s most prevalent cancer among women.
More than 2,000 women are diagnosed with it every year in the country, and more than 400 eventually pass on as a result.
When detected early during the non-invasive stage, it is easier to implement treatment and patients usually have a greater chance of recovery.
For late stage breast cancer, it signifies that the cancer cells have already spread to the surrounding tissue. These cells can then enter the circulatory and lymphatic system, and therefore reach other organs in the body.
Once the cancer cells enter a new area, a metastatic tumour may develop. Breast cancer commonly affects the liver, lungs, and bones.
What Is Breast Cancer?
As a woman, your breasts become completely developed in your 20s. They consist of milk glands and ducts, and each side is surrounded by a layer of fat.
Each breast has around 15 to 20 milk glands that produce milk. This milk is then stored in small ducts that gradually combine together to form larger ducts.
During your reproductive period between 20 and 40 years old, your breasts are affected by your natural hormones. That’s when you might notice your breasts becoming hard, tender, or sore during your menstrual cycle. As you step into your 30s, the milk glands and ducts shrink and are switched out with fibrous and fatty tissue. Breast cancer happens when it develops in these glands and ducts.
What Are Some Risk Factors of Breast Cancer?
Certain factors may raise a woman’s risk of developing this cancer. They include:
- Your age and gender
- Reproductive history
- Family history
- Hormone intake
- Body weight
- Physical activity levels
What Are the Early Signs of Breast Cancer?
As with most types of cancers, the earlier it is detected, the higher your chances of survival.
Here are some common signs of breast cancer:
- Breast pain
- Bloody nipple discharge
- Skin changes
- Itchy nipple rash
- Breast lumps
For older women aged 40 and above, a mammogram is the most trusted tool to detect cancer. It can detect cancer even before you feel any lumps by touching the area with your hand.
What Are the Stages of Breast Cancer?
Breast cancer is divided into 5 stages:
- Stage 0
- Stage 1
- Stage 2
- Stage 3
- Stage 4
How Is Breast Cancer Usually Treated?
There are a few known treatments to choose from, categorised mainly under locoregional treatment and systemic treatment.
Some treatments under locoregional treatment are:
- Armpit surgery
- Mastectomy and lumpectomy
Other treatments under systemic treatment are:
- Cytotoxic chemotherapy
- Hormonal manipulation
- Ovarian ablation
How Can You Manage Your Life With Breast Cancer?
As dismal as it sounds, you can still live your life with breast cancer.
It’s important to always keep the disease in check with proper management. A house doctor can help you manage your cancer better to ensure that everything is in order. You can even opt for a telemedicine consultation periodically to help as well!