Breast Health

Top 5 Steps to Prevent and Detect Breast Cancer Early


Breast cancer is a malignant condition originating from the breast cells. According to the World Cancer Research Fund International, it is the most common cancer among women worldwide, representing 25.8% of the total number of cancers diagnosed in 2020. Early prevention and detection significantly increase the chances of successful treatment and survival.

Understanding Breast Cancer: A Quick Overview

Breast cancer is a disease where malignant cells form in the tissues of the breast. Primarily affecting women, breast cancer can originate from different parts of the breast, leading to various types of the disease.

Here are some of the types of breast cancer:

  • Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (IDC): The most common type, IDC, starts in the milk ducts and spreads into the surrounding breast tissue.
  • Invasive Lobular Carcinoma (ILC): Starting in the milk-producing glands, ILC can spread to other body parts.
  • Ductal Carcinoma in Situ (DCIS): A non-invasive condition, DCIS is confined to the milk ducts.
  • Triple-Negative Breast Cancer: This type tests negative for estrogen receptors, progesterone receptors, and excess HER2 protein, requiring specific treatments.
  • Inflammatory Breast Cancer: A rare but aggressive type that causes the breast to appear red and swollen.

Risk factors for breast cancer

  • Age: Risk increases with age, especially after 50.
  • Gender: Women are significantly more likely to develop breast cancer than men.
  • Family History: Having a close relative with breast cancer can increase your risk.
  • Genetic Mutations: Certain mutations increase the risk, especially in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes.
  • Radiation Exposure: Early exposure to radiation in the chest area can increase risk.
  • Hormone Levels: Extended exposure to estrogen and progesterone can raise risk.

Recognising symptoms is key in early detection. Changes in breast size or shape, skin dimpling, nipple discharge, and new lumps or thickening in the breast or underarm are symptoms that warrant immediate medical attention.

Steps for the Prevention and Early Detection of Breast Cancer

Step 1: Lifestyle Modifications for Prevention

Adopting a healthy lifestyle reduces the risk of breast cancer. A balanced diet, with ample fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains, can be a preventive practice. Limit the intake of processed foods and red meat.

Regular physical activity also contributes significantly to overall health and cancer prevention. Experts recommend a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity per week.

In addition to diet and exercise, another key lifestyle modification involves the reduction of alcohol consumption and completely avoiding smoking. Both these habits have been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. Abstaining from them can considerably reduce this risk.

Step 2: Regular Self-Examinations

Doing self-breast examinations is the best way to detect breast cancer early. Do the following:

  • Look at your breasts in the mirror with arms at your sides and then raised.
  • Lie down and feel your breasts using a circular motion from the outside to the centre.
  • Finally, feel your breasts while standing or sitting. This is more effective when the skin is wet or slippery.

Conduct these examinations once a month. The best time is a few days after your menstrual period ends when the breasts are least likely to be swollen or tender.

What to look for during self-examinations:

  • Look for changes in size, shape, or symmetry.
  • Detect any lumps or thickening in the breast or underarm area.
  • Note any skin or nipple changes, such as dimpling, itching, redness, scaling, or discharge.

Step 3: Clinical Breast Examinations

Clinical breast examinations involve a healthcare professional manually examining the breasts and underarm areas for abnormalities. Women should start having these examinations in their 20s and continue at least every three years. For women aged 40 and above, annual examinations are recommended.

Step 4: Mammograms and Early Detection

A mammogram is an X-ray of the breast. Women should start having mammograms at 40 or earlier if they are at high risk and continue annually. Mammograms can detect breast cancer before physical symptoms are obvious.

Step 5: Understanding Genetic Testing and Family History

Individuals with certain inherited mutations are at increased risk for developing breast cancer. Genetic testing may be appropriate for those with a strong family history of breast cancer or known genetic mutations. Discuss your family medical history with your surgeon for comprehensive risk assessment and personalised advice.


Early prevention and detection of breast cancer significantly improve survival rates. This can be achieved through lifestyle modifications, regular self and clinical examinations, mammograms, and understanding your genetic risk. Consult our breast cancer specialist for personalised advice and further information to manage your breast health effectively.


About SOG Health Pte. Ltd.

Established in 2011, SOG Health Pte. Ltd. (“SOG”) is a leading healthcare service provider dedicated to delivering holistic health and wellness services to the modern family.

With a long and established track record in Singapore providing Obstetrics and Gynaecology (“O&G”) services such as pre-pregnancy counselling, delivery, pregnancy and post-delivery care, the Group has since further expanded its spectrum of healthcare services to include Paediatrics, Dermatology, and Cancer-related General Surgery (Colorectal, Breast & Thyroid).

The Group’s clinics, under its four operating segments of O&G, Paediatrics, Oncology and Dermatology, are strategically located throughout Singapore to provide easy access to its patients.

  • Obstetrics
  • Gynaecology
  • GynaeOncology
  • Breast, Thyroid & General Surgery
  • Colorectal, Endoscopy & General Surgery
  • Dermatology
  • Paediatrics

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