Women’s health / 27 Nov, 2019

Breast care for women of every age

Dr Lau Pik Onn

What is breast cancer?

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in Singapore. All women are at risk, and the risk of breast cancer increases with age.

The good news is that breast cancer can be treated effectively, if it is detected early.

Screening and diagnosis

  • Age – women aged 50 years and older have an increased risk of breast cancer
  • Family history – having a close relative who has breast cancer (mother, sister or daughter)
  • A history of ovarian cancers
  • Early onset of menstruation
  • Late menopause
  • Having your first child after 30, having fewer children or never having children
  • Being on hormone replacement therapy
  • Weight gain, especially after menopause

However, four in five women diagnosed with breast cancer have no known risk factors.

Who is at risk?

Early detection is your best defense, as most women with early stages of breast cancer do not show any signs or symptoms. Detecting breast cancer at an early stage also offers a better chance of successful treatment and recovery.

Do regular breast self-examinations (BSE)

BSE is an examination of one’s own breasts. It should be done monthly from the age of 20, one week after the end of your menstruation when your breasts are less tender and lumpy. If you no longer menstruate, choose a day that you will remember each month.

Look out for any changes in your breasts

Some signs of breast cancer include painless lumps, persistent rash around the nipples, bleeding or unusual discharge from the nipple, a retracted nipple (which was not retracted before) and swollen, thickened or dimpled skin on the breast.

If you have any of the symptoms, please see your doctor immediately.

See the doctor for regular breast screening and clinical examination

You are encouraged to consult the doctor for breast screening yearly if you are aged 40 to 49-years-old, and once every two years for women aged 50 and above.

How to perform a breast self-examination

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