October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, how to detect and treat this most commonly diagnosed cancer in women?
What is Breast Cancer?
Breast cancer touches more than one woman in 9, but it is not random: the causes of breast cancer are linked to many factors such as genes and age.
The symptoms are characterized by the abnormal growing of cells and development of cancerous tumors in the breast, that will invade healthy cells. When it spreads and is diffused in other areas of the body, we talk about metastasis.
There are different types of breast cancer, but the most common are carcinomas – meaning that it developed from a epithelial cells.
Most symptoms are invisible, and not noticeable without a professional screening like a mammogram or an ultrasound. However, we can observe some signs, when we notice some changes such as : breast lump, breast cyst, different size or shape, dimpling in the skin, nipple turned inward, scaly/red/swollen skin on the breast.
How to detect Breast Cancer?
- You can already start with self awareness – It allows you to become familiar with how your breast normally looks and feels and to get quicker your inner changes, in order to go to see a specialist when you realize it.
- Well-woman exam : it is often done after 21 years old in addition of a classic visit at the gynecologist, it is the occasion to check that everything is right, and also the occasion to discuss about your health habits to see what could be improved.
> Consultation, approximate cost: 108$SG
- Mammogram : This exam is recommended to be done once a year after 40 years old. It is an X-ray of the breast, that allows to detect any abnormal breast conditions before it is visible or detectable by touch. (Before 40 years old, if doctors observes breast cyst or other signs they can do an ultrasound)
> Consultation, approximate cost: 135$SG
How to fight Breast Cancer?
Breast Cancer can evolve, and the difficulty of treatment will depend on the stages of cancer. The stages are determined by the localisation of the cancerous zone. But within a stage, there are different levels according to the sizes of the tumors.
- aStage 0 & 1: Early detection, very limited number of affected cells.
- bStage 2: Beginning of the cancer, the cells starts to grow and spread.
- cStage 3: Advanced cancer, cells affected not just in the breast but also around
- dStage 4: The cancer has spread in other areas of the body.
Breast cancer is a cause supported by many associations in Singapore. Breast Cancer Foundation (BCF) is one of them, a non-profit organisation set up in 1997 with the mission to eradicate breast cancer as a life-threatening disease. You can find out more about the foundation and donation opportunities on their website.
To find out more about healthcare topics in Singapore you can check our articles. To understand, how your health insurance plans cover healthcare costs, you can approach UEX‘s happiness team by email or by phone for more information and guidance – and the good news is that they are super nice!
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