Why should I go for breast cancer screening?
1 out of 12 women in Singapore will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. It is a disease that is so common. Most people will have a relative or know a friend or a friend’s friend who has battled with this disease.
It is a disease that is silent. Breast cancer very very rarely presents with pain. By the time a lump is palpable it is usually the size of a 20 cent coin and there would have been the risk of disease spread outside the breast.
Most of all it is heartening to know that it is a very well researched and treatable disease. Diagnosing and treating it early definitely results in better outcomes.
In Singapore, breast cancer screening is recommended from 40 years of age.
What is breast cancer screening?
It is checking a woman’s breasts for cancer. This is a test that is done even before you can feel a lump.
In Singapore population based screening is done with a mammogram from 40 years of age onwards.
What should I do if I am concerned about breast cancer?
Be familiar with conducting a breast self-examination. Take note if there are odd and subtle changes in your breasts. These include having pain, lumps, nipple discharge, changes and discoloration to the skin. If you notice these things, do consult a doctor for further examination and tests.
See Your Doctor For A Clinical Breast Check Up
Your doctor will take a thorough history from you about the lump as well as assess your breast cancer risk factors. She will examine your breasts for lumps as well as other abnormalities.
Go for a Mammogram
This is an X-ray image of your breast to see if you have cancer. It is done in 2 views, by compressing the breast momentarily and taking the X-ray.
Women in Singapore between 40 and 49 need a yearly mammogram and those above 50 need it 2 yearly.
What about an Ultrasound?
Your doctor may frequently order an ultrasound along with your mammogram. This complements a mammogram and is sometimes able to visualise lumps clearly where a mammogram is unable to.
What is a Breast Magnetic Resonance Imaging?
It is also known as an MRI examination. It may be occasionally recommended for women who are at high risk for breast cancer. Your doctor will be able to assess if you need one.