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General Health

Learning the Risks Associated with Breast Cancer

In Singapore, breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosis for women. In fact, over one-fourth of the cancers diagnosed are related to cancer of the breast. Like most cancerous tumours, breast cancer results from a malignant tumour. The risk of getting this form of cancer increases with age. Therefore, most breast cancer patients are over 40 years old. Mostly women have this type of cancer. Less than one percent of breast cancer cases involve men.

When Did You First Give Birth?

Risks for getting cancer escalate if a woman first gave birth after the age of thirty. Therefore, women who are childless or give birth after 30 years old have an increased risk of the disease. Also, the length of a woman’s menstrual cycle can increase the risk. For instance, a longer menstrual cycle increases breast cancer risk.

Breast Cancer Symptoms

The most common symptom associated with breast cancer is the discovery of a lump in the breast. Other symptoms may include the following:

  • A bleeding nipple
  • Discharge from a nipple
  • Lymph glands that have enlarged in an armpit
  • A swollen breast

How Breast Cancer Is Diagnosed

In order to learn more about breast cancer in Singapore and make a diagnosis, doctors must order tests, such as a mammogram and biopsy. Both of these evaluations are necessary when a suspicious lump is found. Once breast cancer is diagnosed, other assessments may be needed to determine the stage of the cancer, or whether the disease has spread to other areas of the body.

What Is a Mammogram?

A mammogram is an X-ray that is taken of the breast. Screening mammograms are used to detect breast cancer in patients that are symptomless, whereas diagnostic mammograms are used after a lump or symptoms present themselves.

Therefore, a diagnostic mammogram can validate the reasons for specific symptoms. When compared to screening mammograms, mammograms that are used for diagnoses are more detailed in nature. They are also used for patients who have breast implants.

What Is Involved in Diagnostic Imaging?

A diagnostic mammogram takes longer to perform as it involves more X-rays. The images are taken, providing various views of the breast from different points. Sometimes the mammogram also zooms in on an image where an abnormality is revealed. All this is done to offer a patient a more precise diagnosis.

Locating Cancerous Cells

Besides locating cancerous tumours, mammograms are also used to detect ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). These are abnormal cells that appear in the breast duct lining. In some cases, the cells turn into an invasive cancer in some patients.

The dependability of a mammogram depends on a tumour size as well as the density of the tissue. It is harder to detect tumours on younger women as younger women have breast tissue that is denser, which makes it harder to spot the malignancy. That is why a mammogram is supported by a test, such as a biopsy.

In Singapore, surgery is normally the first plan of treatment for breast cancer. If a breast cannot be saved, a mastectomy must be performed. In order to treat the remaining tissue and cancer cells, chemotherapy and radiotherapy must be employed to prevent a reoccurrence after the procedure.