7 Essential Facts about Breast Cancer

In Singapore, breast cancer is the most common type of cancer among women and the second leading cause of cancer death in women of all ethnicities and races. But despite its commonness, many are still unaware of this cancer’s risk factors —with lifestyle choices as the most significant factor of all. Here are the 10 essential facts about breast cancer that every women—and even men—should know.

1. It’s up to you to know your risk.

One of the simplest things that young women can do to is to know their family history. Having a first-degree relative, like a mother or a sister, get cancer at a young age heightens your risk.

Since a detailed medical history is not a dinner-table kind of conversation, it is up to you to ask your family and talk to your family doctor or to an oncologist about your possibility of developing breast cancer. If many of your family members died of or diagnosed with cancer, see a specialist for a blood test to check for BRCA, commonly known as the ‘cancer gene,’ that runs in the family.

2. Your ethnicity can contribute to your risk.

Although it is the most common type of cancer among women in Singapore, it is not as widespread as in American women. Black women, in particular, are three times more likely to develop ‘triple negative tumour’ compared to women of other ethnicity and racial backgrounds. According to oncology experts, a triple negative tumour is among the deadliest types of breast cancer due to its resistance to most cancer treatments.

3. Healthy diet and regular exercise matters—a lot!

In a study, even mild physical activities after menopause reduce chances of developing breast cancer. Women who exercise 10 to 15 hours a week while having a good cancer doctor from singapore reap the greatest health benefits of 30 percent risk reduction.

The intensity level of the exercise doesn’t matter—a 30-minute brisk walk is just as beneficial as a high-intensity interval training in terms of reducing your cancer risk. Just be sure to keep track of your weight as excessive weight gain can eradicate the benefits of exercise.

4. The wrong contraceptive method can double your cancer risk.

Certain types of birth control can raise your risk for cancer. One of which are the progesterone-only contraceptives, which doubles your risk when used for more than year. The good news, though, is that when you stop, the increased risks dissipate in a couple of months.

The risk may also extend to oral birth control. While there’s no clear reason for this yet, experts say that those with family history of breast cancer should use be careful before using this contraceptive method. If worried about your risk, talk to an oncologist to evaluate your risk before taking birth control pills.

5. The right doctor will give you peace of mind.

If you find any lump or signs of irregularity, searching for the right oncology expert with ample experience in treating the disease is the key to preventing and managing cancer. A board-certified oncologist, especially one who has had extra training for treating breast cancer, surely has the expertise in performing relevant tests that contribute to more accurate diagnosis and treatment plans.

To find the right doctor, start looking at the nearest cancer center or teaching hospital, as these establishments usually have the best technologies and always have records of the latest researches.

6. There is no need to rush.

Contrary to popular belief, breast cancer is usually not an emergency. A less experienced specialist may rush into executing a treatment, but it’s really about finding the right method that works for your case. And while it is important to make healthy decisions when you’re already diagnosed, it’s also vital to be gentle with yourself.

If you find out you have higher risk, it is not yet the end of the world. With the advent of modern medical technologies, treatment methods have improved in the last decades. Surgical and medicinal options like chemotherapy can help in significantly reducing your risk. When a cancer develops, it is no longer important how you got it. What matters most is that you are aware of it and make a plan on how to treat and stop its development.

7. You can use an app to track your risk.

As mentioned, modern technology has helped a lot in preventing further development of diseases, including cancer. Keeping track of the latest researches, your family’s medical history and some lifestyle factors like smoking, alcohol consumption, exercise, diet and weight makes it possible to determine your risk on your own. Although it’s still highly recommended to go to a cancer center for accurate risk examination, the Breast Cancer Risk Assessment app helps with initial evaluation.

Moreover there are websites where women who are and once diagnosed with breast cancer can communicate, exchange ideas, share experiences, ask questions and share photos. This is a great place where women can give each other support and provide suggestions of the best cancer centers in Singapore.

Breast cancer has always been a tough battle for all women in the world. Make this a tad easier for you by knowing the right facts about the disease. Although these are just a few of the many essential facts of breast cancer, a little knowledge goes a long way in helping you understand your risk. Now that you know more about the disease, we hope you’ll seek professional advice and develop an action plan to reduce the risk or detect this illness at its earliest, non-life-threatening stage.

Women and Cancer: The 3 Most Common Cancers in Women

We are at constant battle with cancer every day, and it is often an uphill battle. The good news is, more and more battles are being won. However, we need to be aware which type of cancers hit women the hardest and what needs to be done to avoid, treat, and even cure them. Here are five of the most common cancers that strike a good number of women in Singapore.

1. Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer any women may face in her lifetime. It can occur at any age, though the risk increases as you age. Because of certain factors, some women are more prone to developing the disease than other. However, every woman should know what it is and what can be done to prevent and treat it.

Symptoms: Early signs of breast cancer can be detected through self-examination. Breast cancer signs may include change in the shape, size, or texture (puckering or dimpling) of the breast, abnormal discharge (with or without blood) from the nipple, a lump in the breast or in the underarm area, and red, swollen skin on the areola or nipple.

Screening: Clinical breast exam (CBE) and mammogram done at an oncologist from Singapore should be done once a year even to women who appear healthy. Remember that the purpose of a screening test is to detect breast cancer at its earliest stage, before any signs and symptoms start showing up.

Treatment: Depending on the stage of your cancer, how far it has spread, and its location, your Singapore oncologist may perform a surgery—breast-conserving, modified radical, mastectomy, or total mastectomy—in conjunction with a therapy—chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, or targeted therapy. The therapy will help kill any remaining infected cells that were not eradicated through surgery and help reinforce the cancer treatment.

Reduce Your Risk: Like any other cancer, there’s no sure way to prevent breast cancer. However, there are a few things you can certainly do to lower your risk. For example, physical activity, body weight, and diet are linked to breast cancer, so make sure to manage these factors well to stay in good health and shape. If you have strong family history of breast cancer, discuss with an oncologist Singapore about genetic testing for mutations in your genes that can cause the development of breast cancer.

2. Ovarian Cancer

Often lethal, this type of cancer is hard to detect as it mimics the symptoms of less serious illnesses. Ovarian cancer is more common in women over the age of 50, but can also affect younger women.

Symptoms: This type of cancer shows very subtle symptoms, such as abdominal discomfort, backache, feeling of fullness, bloating, and weight loss, so women often don’t go to see a doctor until symptoms occurs more frequently and the disease has spread further in the body.

Screening: The earlier the cancer is detected, the better chances for recovery. However, ovarian cancer is hard to detect when it is in its early stage. Many times, patients with ovarian cancer show no—or very mild–symptoms until the disease is in advanced stage. Currently, there are no screening tests for ovarian cancer, but can still be detected through rectovaginal exam, blood test, and ultrasound.

Treatment: Ovarian cancer is often treated with a combination of treatments, most commonly surgery and chemotherapy. The type of surgery, however, depends on several factors such as the stage of cancer, patient’s preferences, possible side effects, and whether the patient is planning to have children. Take time to learn more about your cancer treatment options by discussing them with your Singapore oncology consultants.

Reduce Your Risk: Taking oral contraceptives decreases the risk of ovarian cancer, especially for women who have been using them for three years and more. Women who have been using (or have used) birth control pills for more than five years have about 50 percent lower risk of developing the disease. Hysterectomy and tubal ligation can also reduce chances of developing ovarian cancer, but Singapore health experts suggest that these operations should only be performed for valid medical reasons—not for preventing ovarian cancer.

3. Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer is caused by human papillomavirus (HPV), which spreads through sexual intercourse. Most women’s bodies are capable of fighting this infection. However, for some, it leads to cancer. If you smoke, have multiple sex partners, or are HIV infected, you’re at higher risk for developing cervical cancer.

Symptoms: Usually, precancerous lesions aren’t accompanied with symptoms. However, once the cancer has thrived, you may experience bloody discharge and irregular bleeding between periods (although these can also be caused by some other factors).

Screening: Pap tests, tests that will detect irregular cervical cells, must be done once a year with a Pap smear, and every two years with a liquid-based test. If in case you got an abnormal Pap test result, HPV testing must be done.

Treatment: Fortunately, most abnormalities linked to cervical cancer can be detected by screenings and treated before the disease aggravates and spreads to other organs. For low-grade change, your oncologist Singapore may order a colposcopy to examine closely your cervix. If test results show high-grade changes, you’ll undergo colposcopy and your doctor may have to collect a sample specimen of your cervical tissue for biopsy. If lesions are larger, your specialist will likely recommend a cone biopsy, which requires taking of large amount of cervical tissue for in-depth examination. A combination of treatments, such as surgery with radio therapy and/or chemotherapy, may be done depending on how advanced your case is.

Reduce Your Risk: Regular Pap test is essential for prevention of cervical cancer. And of course, HPV vaccines will protect women against the types of HPV that can cause most vaginal, vulvar, and cervical cancers. However, regular Pap tests are still required for women who are vaccinated with anti-HPV.

Cancer is the leading cause of mortality in Singapore. However, if we have enough knowledge about the disease and know how to prevent and treat it, it’s not impossible to recover from any critical situation we may be in.