Breast cancer is the number one cancer among women in Singapore. According to the Singapore Cancer Registry, more than 25% of all cancers diagnosed in women are breast cancers. Between 2011 and 2015, nearly 2,000 women were diagnosed to have breast cancer each year. Women in Singapore have a 5% chance of developing breast cancer in her lifetime.
Risk factors for breast cancer
Breast cancer risk increases with age. Other risk factors may include:
- Having a family history of breast cancer affecting a first degree relative (mother, sister or daughter)
- Having a personal history of malignant or benign breast diseases
- Early onset of menstruation before the age of 11
- Late menopause after the age of 55
- Having the first pregnancy after the age 35
- Taking hormones (e.g. hormone replacement therapy)
- Weight gain after menopause
- Excessive consumption of alcohol, red meat and fatty foods
- Physical inactivity
What can be done to reduce the risk of breast cancer?
- Limit daily alcohol intake to no more than 1 or 2 standard drinks for women and men respectively
- Maintain a healthy weight (i.e. body mass index for Asians ranging between 18.5 – 22.9kg/m2)
- Engage in 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity in a week
- Breastfeed your child for at least one year whenever possible
- Understand the risks and suitability before taking any hormones
Signs of breast cancer
Symptoms of breast cancer differ from person to person. Some may experience the following while some may not show any signs or symptoms.
- New lump in the breast or underarm
- Persistent rash around the nipple
- Bleeding or unusual discharge from the nipple
- Swollen, thickened, dimpled or wrinkled skin overlying the breast
- Nipple retraction (drawn inwards)
Early breast cancer usually does not show any symptoms. Hence, going for regular health screening is important.