With October being observed as the breast cancer awareness month, we at Parents World wish to touch upon the topic to make our women readers more aware of the myths and facts associated with breast cancer.
Do you know that 29.7% of all cancers detected among women in Singapore are breast cancers? It is one of the most prevalent cancers worldwide, affecting millions of women.
5 Myths about breast cancer
Breast cancer is a genetic disease – It cannot be denied that women with a family history of breast cancer should be extra cautious, but in reality, only 5-10% of breast cancers are genetic. So, women with no family history of breast cancer should be equally cautious and undergo regular medical checks.
Breast cancer is uncommon in women below 60 years – Statistics say that the median age of women developing breast cancer is 62, but it’s also quite common in ages between 40-50. About 80% of women diagnosed with breast cancer each year are aged 45 or older.
Antiperspirants cause breast cancer – although it is believed and circulated around by non-medical sources that using deodorants can cause breast cancer, there is no scientific or medically proven evidence for this.
Wearing a bra causes breast cancer – we are often advised to sleep without bras at night as it’s believed that the tightness of the rim of the bra causes breast cancer. However, studies have confirmed that wearing bras does not cause breast cancer.
Women with healthy lifestyles do not get breast cancer – we all aim to stay fit and eat healthy. Most women who are active, maintain weight, eat healthy and feel healthy from the inside are almost 100% sure that they will never have breast cancer. However, there are a substantial number of breast cancer cases that have occurred in women who have perfect health and lifestyle.
Must-know facts about breast cancer
Symptoms of breast cancer in a nutshell
We all have been reading and hearing about common symptoms of breast cancer. Here are some of the prominent symptoms that you should watch out for:
A painless lump in the breast
Bleeding or unusual discharge from the nipple
Dimpled or puckered skin over the breast
Persistent itch and rash around the nipple
Swollen and thickened skin over the breast
Pulled in or retracted nipple
Screening for breast cancer
Timely and regular screening are the most important weapons to put breast cancer at bay or rather make the treatment easy if you end up having it. Singapore Cancer Society advises that women between 40 and 49 years of age should go for mammograms once a year, and those who are 50 and above, must go for screening once every two years. Since young women have denser tissues the chances of going undetected in the test becomes higher as compared to women over 50.
90% of breast cancer cases can be treated successfully if they are detected at stage 1.
Singapore Cancer Society runs a number of schemes and promotions on the cost of mammograms to encourage resident women to regularly undergo the screening. Check out here.
Breast cancer treatment
Breast cancers can be completely cured if detected early. Even in cases where it is detected at an advanced stage, treatment can help to mitigate the risk and control its spread.
The treatment of breast cancer is not the same for all patients. It varies according to the stage of cancer, the cell health, the age and overall health of the patient and other factors that the oncologist might advise on. The most common treatments for breast cancer are surgery, chemotherapy, hormone therapy and radiation.
Thomson Medical Centre, Gleneagles Hospital, Mount Elizabeth and Parkway East are top private hospitals for breast cancer treatment. Also, SingHealth institutions like the National Cancer Centre Singapore, Singapore General Hospital, Changi General Hospital, Sengkang General Hospital and KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital, have cutting-edge equipment for diagnosis and the best doctors to treat the condition.
Estimating the cost of breast cancer treatment might not be straightforward as different patients have different lines of treatment. But, if we only look at breast cancer surgery, it ranges from S$18,525 to S$1777 depending on the private or public hospital and subsidised or unsubsidised treatment. Check out this link for a better idea.
Staying positive and conquering breast cancer
As hackneyed as it may sound, staying positive during breast cancer treatment can actually help make the treatment more effective and result-oriented. So, it’s important to train your mind to keep the confidence that the treatment will increase your chances of survival and you will lead a normal life again soon.
If you are in Singapore and are diagnosed with breast cancer there are a number of online forums and resources where you can connect with breast cancer survivors who share their personal experience, tips and tricks to manage the disease.
Go for regular checks, keep checking for symptoms and reach out to your doctor if you have the faintest doubt.
Check out our health screening article here.